How To Negotiate Your Job Offer Like a Pro

The very idea of negotiating salary, vacation or anything else with a potential employer makes most people nervous. However, keep in mind that your skills are a commodity and certainly hold market value. If you are working with a headhunter or contingency recruiter, they will likely negotiate your package because better the package they negotiate for you, the better you do, the better they do. If you found this position on your own however, it’s essentially up to you to make sure that you get the best compensation package you deserve.

As an Executive Recruiter presenting an initial offer to my candidates, I often find that many are too quick to accept. It’s my job to gauge whether or not the prospective employers is in a position to negotiate and if they are, I will often guide the process to ensure that my candidates ends up with the best possible offer and that my client is not over extended.

Due to strict guidelines or budget constraints, some employers are unable to negotiate, but most are open; and depending on your level of experience some even expect it. The following are some tips on effectively negotiating your offer without going too far:

1) Know the market

Before even starting to negotiate, compare your experience, educational background and anything else to others in the same industry and at the same level. This will give you an idea of what your skills are worth. Have particular figures on hand. You can either look online for statistics in your area or you can look on salary.com for more information.

2) Take some time

Once you are offered the job, don’t accept on the spot. Sound excited and enthusiastic, but ask for a day to consider. If you don’t sound like you really would consider, the employer could easily present the offer the position to someone else.

3) Know your bottom line

It’s imperative to know what the absolutely bottom line is in order to maintain your standard of living. How much must you make in order to support yourself and/or your family.

4) Find out the details of the job

It’s a good idea to know how long the position has been posted and why. If the position has been open for a long period of time, your bargaining power has just increased.

5) Don’t give a number

Never be the first to offer a dollar figure as far as salary goes. Let the employer be the first to throw out a number. If asked, try to answer with “what is a typical salary for this position” or “what kind of salary range are you working with?” or “I’d like to earn as much as others with my qualifications”. Try to stay away from a particular dollar amount because if you low ball yourself, the employer will quickly accept the amount you request.

6) Look at the complete package

Don’t just focus on the money. When considering the complete offer, remember that it includes bonus, benefits, vacation AND salary. If the company seems like they can’t or won’t negotiation on salary, try to negotiate benefits, more vacation, stock options or flex hours. They are all part of the total compensation.

7) Don’t give an ultimatum – consider other long-term options

If the company can’t offer you what you want now, consider things like performance-based bonuses or salary increases within a shorter time period.

8) Be reasonable

To find a deal that works for you as well as the company, you will have to be flexible or you will lose the opportunity altogether. The key is to understand that this has to be ‘mutually beneficial’.

9) Anticipate objections

Be prepared for reason on why you are worth what you are asking for. Be ready to cover all angles and know exactly what you will be able to bring to this position that others can’t. Know how to respond to questions like “you’re asking for too much”. Keep in mind that you do not have to disclose how much you were making in your previous position.

10) Get it in writing

If you decide accept the offer, make sure that you get all the terms in writing. The typical job offer should include the following:

  • Start date
  • Salary
  • bonus and benefit details
  • Some may include work conditions
  • Qualifications and experience required

It may be challenging, but it’s worth the effort to negotiate your employment offer. You will increase your compensation and your negotiation abilities might also impress your employer.

How did you negotiate your last job offer?

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