Recently, one of my bloggers, Bonnie Siegel, associate partner at Sanford Rose Associates in Charleston, S.C., wrote about how critical it is that candidates know exactly what's important to them when entering a job negotiation. It is only with such tenets in mind that one can maneuver through the thrust and parry of offers and counter-offers. The questions of "What's most important to me... What can I not do without... What constitutes a dealbreaker?" should be asked and answered before a resume is even sent.
Bringing such focus to the table, of course, requires preparation, forethought, and reflection, but is only with such focus that we can clearly articulate both what we offer and what we require in return. It is only with such preparation that we can know when to say no, and not be pulled in this direction or that.
Sometimes, positions which seem to offer a good fit turn out slightly off, and that represents a critical moment when knowing yourself can mean avoiding a huge error. On the verge of "settling" for a position that will ultimately prove disastrous for both employer and employee, the candidate who has attained a high degree of self-awareness will walk away from the table before it's too late.
Clarity does something else for the employee -- it absolutely impresses the interviewer. It's amazing how many people, organizations and vendors lack clarity. Often there is intentional obfuscation at work born of a reluctance to say "no" to any potential business, or the desire to seem an appropriate choice for any open position. I have heard stories of salespeople who've been ordered to never, ever write "no" on an RFP, but rather to promise anything and figure out how to deliver it later.
I've had calls from people who refused to actually say what they wanted until I demanded a clear answer. Someone I thought for the better part of three minutes wanted to buy, actually was trying to sell -- talk about frustrating.
For those of you trying to break into healthcare IT, develop a clear value proposition that can be articulated in a 30-second "elevator pitch." Be prepared to offer as much clarity around what you do as what you don't, and address the latter with as much gusto as the former. Explaining what you don't do puts people at ease, because they realize you are not trying to win at all costs. After that, a level of comfort and trust enters the interview that instantly increases your chances of success.
Whether you are applying for a job, starting a business, creating products or selling them, clarity in all things is a key ingredient. In a world full of yes men, the no man or woman stands apart. The no person brings clarity, courage, and principles to the table -- a winning combination in any negotiation.
Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of