With an ever-increasing worldwide shortage of engineering personnel within the oil and gas industry, pay rates for expatriate workers are predicted to remain artificially high. For employers, this is nothing new: to attract the highest calibre workers, they must offer an attractive salary or rate. For contractors or permanent staff, it means that career opportunities and remuneration possibilities within the industry can be extremely lucrative.
So, what happens when you have identified an excellent opportunity, have made a great impression to your organisation of choice and are made a job offer? When you enter into the negotiation process, how do you secure the best deal?
Having gained post-graduate experience and (undoubtedly) further training of some description within your sector, it is highly probable that you will have taken the decision to progress into a mid-level role. In this case, securing an expatriate position becomes increasingly feasible. Being able to describe to potential future organisations the ways in which you have contributed to the success of specific projects can position you favourably prior to the negotiation process.
By this stage in your career, it is possible that you will have acquired some negotiation skills and might even have gained additional benefits, such as performance bonuses or flexi-time already. While further responsibilities, such as a family and mortgage, might not necessarily affect your decision to work as an expatriate, they are likely to affect the types of additional benefits that appeal to you. The value of extra holiday time or better rotational shifts, for example, might increase as your family circumstances change.
If you are questioned about your current rate or salary during an interview, try to respond by stating that you do not think your existing rate is reflective of your capabilities and that your main concern is securing the right job. Alternatively, you could say that you have a range but that it will really depend upon the total package, which can also lead into discussing the benefits that are available to you.
If you are made an offer that is lower than what you would like, you must say so. Reaffirm your interest in the opportunity as well as your previous experience and qualifications and use these as a basis from which to negotiate. At this point you will need to be direct and assertive even though you might feel apprehensive. Keep in mind that the employer has chosen you from a pool of candidates already so you are in a strong position.
If a second offer is made that you still feel unhappy about, ask for a little time to think about it and compare it to other opportunities. This may mean re-evaluating your needs and financial demands: is the employer credible and will the job lead to further career development?
At senior level, understanding the negotiation process becomes even more essential if you are to secure a rate or salary and benefits package that is reflective of your skills and experience. Ideally, it will be you that manages the direction of the interview and, if you have prepared sufficiently, you will have a good understanding of the company, enabling you to describe the ways in which you meet the requirements of the organisation as well as the role or project itself.
Often in today’s job market, there is no salary stated on an advert, especially for senior positions. In such cases, your negotiating strategy should be carefully planned to achieve the salary and package you require. A standard package may include a pension, private healthcare, share options and bonuses, but in a competitive job market where businesses want to attract and retain the top talent, enhanced benefits include gym membership, vehicle recovery membership, extra holidays and free health and travel insurance.
Upon receiving an offer, it is then also possible to request additional benefits that you would like to be considered prior to your acceptance. By this stage your potential employer will have an appreciation of your worth to their company, meaning that you have the opportunity to be more specific about what you would like. Avoid appearing demanding – assume a level of assertive respect and the process should be comfortable and productive.
Once you have finished all negotiations, it is important to request confirmation of any additional benefits that have been agreed in writing. When you have received your written offer, you can formally accept the new role and either work until the end of your current contract, or hand in your notice and work until the end of your agreed notice period.
If you decide not to accept the offer, a polite refusal is your own responsibility. It is important not to leave an employer waiting too long for an answer - if you have other offers to consider, a week is an acceptable timescale to work to. Be polite but firm in your refusal, giving reasons that you turned the offer down; and leave the door open in case you wish to apply for another position at the company in the future.
When concluding negotiations by accepting or rejecting an offer, using a recruitment agency can make the whole process much easier. By acting as an intermediary and having knowledge of the sector and client, they can negotiate much harder on your behalf and ask the questions you may have felt uncomfortable asking yourself.
However, negotiation skills are something that can be developed over the course of your career, so the more you progress professionally, the better you will become at negotiating the terms of employment with future organisations. Be confident about your capabilities and you will find yourself in an ideal position for negotiations when the occasion arises.
This article was written by Michael Wallace, Recruitment Manager, NES Overseas www.nesoverseas.com