Merits of Negotiating Your “Fit” BEFORE Taking a Job

Last week I found myself taking the train into New York with my friend Scott. Scott has generously given me good business advice over the years, so I was happy to reciprocate when he said, “I am considering taking a new job, but the office is two hours away. So, I’ve put together a plan whereby I would work from home two days a week and in the office three days. What do you think? Should I propose this before I get the offer?”

Scott is not the first person to ask me, “Should I mention that I want to work flexibly when I am interviewing for a job?” There are many variables that influence the answer including:
• How desperately you need a job—can you be picky
• How valuable you are to the hiring organization
• Whether you have thoughtfully analyzed if the type of flexibility you want makes sense not only for you, but also for the job, and how that flexibility will work day to day
• Whether you considered alternative scenarios that the company might propose during a negotiation?

If you are like Scott, able to be somewhat discerning in your job search and valuable to the organization that might hire you, and you have created a plan that considers your needs as well as the needs of the business, then my answer is “yes.” You should present your proposed flexibility during the hiring negotiation process, and here’s why:

• More and more organizations are willing to consider flexibility, especially if it involves working full-time but working differently (eg. different hours, or working from home.) According to Scott, the hiring managing he’s talking to would be open to the conversation.

• If you couldn’t do the job given your unique work and personal realities without flexibility, then why set yourself up for failure? Be honest and up front, not only with your prospective employer but with yourself. Scott agreed he wouldn’t actually be able to commute four hours a day, and also noted, “By working from home two days a week, I am saving eight hours in the car or a whole extra day of productivity.” Great business case!

• What is the worst that can happen? They say no and perhaps not offer you the job. I asked Scott, what are you going to do if they say “no?” He thought for a minute, “Keep the job I have and keep looking.” But he then admitted, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Here’s an interesting side note from our conversation. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about “Because-I-did-it-that-way-itis.” It turns out that blog meant a lot to Scott, because when he mentioned his work+life fit plan to his father, the response was, “Don’t do that. Are you crazy?” Scott realized that he couldn’t look to his dad, someone who never would have considered proposing such a thing, to support him.

This is a new day. Demographics, technology, and the 24/7, high tech, global work reality is shifting mindsets and opening possibilities. Strategically take advantage of work+life “fit” flexibility to meet your needs as well as the needs of the business.

What are your experiences? Have you proposed a unique fit to a prospective employer? How did it go? (Note: Remember my comment spam filter—it will say your comment is spam but I can still see it and approve it. So, comment away!)