How to Successfully Negotiate a Job Offer
Executing a job search, interviewing, and landing that job you’ve been vying for can be a stressful, challenging experience, even for seasoned professionals. Hopefully, the time comes when an offer is presented to you, and the negotiating games begin.
The truth is that many men and women are not savvy in the art of negotiating once an offer is presented, fearing that such tactics could appear to the hiring manager as a lack of real desire for the position. In fact, Harvard Business Review found in studies that only 57% of educated men, and 7% of educated women are prepared to negotiate salary terms.
Job offer negotiation is a critical part of accepting an offer. It demonstrates your belief in the perceived value of your skills to the company, and displays confidence in your suitability for the position.
What is Negotiable?
There are several conditions of employment that you may want to consider negotiating beyond salary, as reported in a Forbes article:
- Vacation days
- Sign-on bonuses
- Tuition reimbursement
- Attendance to conferences relevant to your profession
- Flexible work schedules, including the ability to work from home
- First-year performance bonus
Also, depending on the type of business and your position, other benefits may be negotiable:
- Stock options
- Use of a company vehicle
- Reimbursement for relocation expenses
Salary may be a driving force in your career decision, but keep the entire package in mind throughout the negotiations.
Job Offer Salary Negotiation
Without negotiating the salary offer presented to you, there could be many thousands of dollars left on the table, compounded over the course of a career.
Some hiring managers actually expect some level of salary negotiations, and may even lose confidence in candidates who don’t at least present a counteroffer or question the proposed salary.
Consider the Dos and Don’ts of salary negotiations before beginning the process:
- React professionally and calmly to the initial offer, even if it exceeds your wildest dreams. Appearing over-anxious eliminates your negotiating opportunity.
- Give yourself time to consider your counter offer, as in ‘I would like two days to consider the offer, and discuss it at home.’ It doesn’t matter if you’re married with a family or not. This gives you time to think through the offer, and about what you may propose as a counter offer.
- Do your homework. Research online resources for salary range practices relevant to the position you’re seeking. Arming yourself with current industry information informs the hiring manager that you know your value.
- Maintain your professionalism throughout the negotiations. Becoming demanding or even angry weakens your position, and may even remove you from consideration. Be courteous, positive, and polite at all times. Attitude counts.
- Focus on your personal and professional strengths that make you worth more to the company. This justifies bringing you into the position at the higher end of the pay scale, which pays off for the rest of your career.
- Consider hiring bonuses. The company may not be able to exceed a firm salary cap, but they could be open to offering a sign-on bonus, extra vacation days, or other items that sweeten the deal.
- Keep the intent of your interviewer’s questions in mind, as well as the specific question – especially if the question appears to be overly probing or personal.
A question such as whether you have other offers that you’re considering may in reality be an attempt to find out just how interested you are in this position. Address your answer toward the intent, responding with how much you want to be a part of the company and the value you offer.
- When proposing a higher salary, have logic behind it, based on experience and your research. If you don’t have reasons to believe you’re worth more, you risk coming across as simply being greedy.
- Never lose your enthusiasm toward being hired for the position. Keep the momentum moving forward, expressing your confidence that you can contribute to the company’s success in the position.
- Don’t over-do it. There’s little to be gained from excessive pushing or demands. Often the best strategy is to propose a counter offer that exceeds what you’re willing to accept, so that meeting somewhere in the middle appears as a win for both you and the hiring manager.
Put It in Writing
You may have an opportunity to negotiate with a hiring manager face-to-face, but most companies will provide you with a written offer for a position, including information related to salary, vacation, eligibility for benefits, etc.
Your negotiations and counter-offers should similarly be provided in a written response. This should of course be done clearly and professionally.
Make use of available job offer negotiation letter templates. There are many available written by professionals who are willing to share their experiences in negotiating. Templates cover everything from salary proposals to stock options.
Closing the Deal
Once all terms of employment are mutually agreed upon, send a polite, professional acceptance letter directly to the individual who made the offer.
Thank them for the opportunity to join the company, and re-state the terms of your employment including salary, start date, and any special terms that were negotiated. This will ensure that there are no misunderstandings related to your employment.
Once more, express your enthusiasm toward the position and appreciation for their time and consideration.