Dallas Mavericks HR Director Shares Best Salary Negotiation Tactics


Dr. Andria Johnson director of human resources at the Dallas Mavericks shared her best salary negotiation practices.

As the wave of unemployment from the pandemic starts to subside salary negotiations need to be adapted to new standards, according to Forbes.

US companies have started to reopen and are hiring workers again. In May, the US economy added 2.5 million jobs, but there have been over 40 million filings for unemployment since February. As workers start to re-enter the workforce, they will have to adapt to new changes and negotiate a new salary. Dr. Andria Johnson, director of human resources at the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, shared her best tactics for these negotiations.

“Coming out of the pandemic,” Dr. Johnson said, “what a lot of people don’t realize is when they do get survey data or compensation, survey data is never real-time. It’s always literally a year or a year and a half behind because they have to compile all the compensation. Then they have to produce a report. If you are fortunate to have access to something like that, keep in mind it’s not going to reflect the current pandemic numbers and situation.”

Dr. Johnson speaks from experience after several career changes that required these types of negotiations. The following are key pieces of Dr. Johnson's advice.

  • Be realistic. “A lot of times,” she said, “people will say, ‘I want to make X amount, but they haven’t really looked at what that position pays in that industry in that geographical area.” The first thing workers should do is research what the average amount for the position is. One of the worst things you can do is walk in with the “I’ll take whatever they offer me” mindset. Have a minimum number that you can survive on.
  • Don't be afraid during the first interview to ask how much the role is paying. If you are asked how much you want to make, state the amount you would like and ask if that is something the company can offer. If they say no, you have to decide if a pay cut is worth the role.
  • Be intentional from the beginning. “I hate when people wait to the end because there are unfair compensation practices,” Dr. Johnson explains. “You may get to the end and find out the position is 100% commissioned. You’ve gotten your hopes up, you’ve gotten excited, and now you realize I don’t want 100% commission job. So, be very intentional in every stage of the process from the very first conversation, continuing through the interview process. A lot of times, the first conversation is a quick call. They give you a high level of what the position is, and you’re like, ‘okay, great. Something of this level, I would expect X amount.’ But, as you go through the interview process, and you’re asking those intentional questions about what does success look like in this role, and what will I be in responsible for, do I have to create a strategy or am I more executing it, as you continue to dive deeper, then you may say, ‘you know what, this position is actually a lot bigger than what I thought it was. So, for me to do this role, I actually am going to need an extra $10,000 because that seems competitive and fair to me.’”
  • Compromise, but do not settle. Sometimes companies aren't able to meet salary requests due to budget restrictions. However, sometimes companies will compromise and could offer you a sign-on bonus. “If you honestly feel like the company is trying to meet you where you’re at and it’s a job that you really want, then compromises are part of the game,” she shares. “If you know for a fact that a company is lowballing you or you know for a fact that you cannot live off that salary, don’t settle. You’ll never catch back up to where you want to be when you come in at a lower level or a lower rate. You need to make sure that at that rate you’re comparable, you’re going to be able to bring your best self to work and be excited about your job at whatever pay they get you.”
  • Consider the whole compensation package. Look at more than just the salary. Make sure to focus on potential bonuses, health benefits, or retirement contribution matches.
  • Understand that the scope of the role is different than performance. Salary pays for the scope of the role, but performance measurements such as bonuses are tied to performance.

“Everybody should go into an interview knowing that it’s a two-way interview,” said Dr. Johnson. “When people come into interviews, they get so nervous. They’re like, ‘okay, this is about me.’ No, it’s about the company as well. It needs to be a mutual match.”

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