How do i negotiate an offer or salary for a new job?
First, we thought it would help to define what negotiation is – because it helps tremendously to keep this in mind. Negotiation is essentially a set of dialogues or words that you use to achieve a desired result. And you want to use the most effective words to get you what you want – so it helps to be prepared with what you need to say and how to handle what recruiters or the people in human resources will say. In the discussion below, we try to help you with this.
Don’t be scared to negotiate!
Most people feel uncomfortable discussing salary or even negotiating. And even worse, a lot of people accept offers that are well below what they should be paid because they are afraid to negotiate or afraid to lose the offer.
Think of it this way: If you were going to hire someone wouldn’t you want someone who has the savvy and the intelligence to try to negotiate an offer? We know we would!
Can I negotiate things other than salary?
Of course you can! It all depends on what exactly you want. Here are some things other than salary that are negotiable: the signing bonus, stock options, and even vacation time.
Whether you just want a signing bonus or if you just want a bigger signing bonus – both of those things are absolutely negotiable. A lot of people don’t know that you can also negotiate your paid vacation time – within reason of course. So, say that you are given 2 weeks of paid vacation – then you could potentially negotiate this up to 4 weeks, maybe even 6 if that is what you really want.
Negotiating is Handling objections
What is an objection? Well, an example will help clarify this: let’s say you are negotiating for a nice pair of jeans in a store – assuming of course that you can negotiate the prices in this fictitious store. The price of the jeans is $25, but you only want to pay $20 – and you tell the store owner “I want it for $20”. The store-owner says “Well, $20 is what it costs me to make it, so I can’t give it to you for $20.”
This is called an objection – because the store owner is not giving you what you want immediately, and is “objecting”. Whether he is telling you the truth or not doesn’t really matter. What does matter is how you handle this objection to get what you want, without also losing what you want by making the store owner angry. And that is what objection handling- or negotiation – is all about!
Further down below we present things that you can actually say with the people that you are negotiating with. And what is the desired result? To get yourself a better salary, of course!
Don’t be greedy
You can almost never lose an offer by negotiating well – unless you get too greedy, unrealistic, and over-aggressive. That will definitely get a lot of recruiters angry and annoyed, and they can cancel your offer. So, be careful.
How do I start negotiating and what should I say?
Knowing what to say and do when you negotiate is critical. So, here we wanted to give you some ideas of how to approach the negotiation process, and what to actually say when you are negotiating.
The very first thing you should do is schedule a phone call with the appropriate person with whom you will be negotiating. Whoever gave you the terms of the offer is also the person with whom you will be negotiating with.
Negotiating salary through email
You should never negotiate salary through an email if possible – negotiation is a personal thing, and email is simply not personal enough. Also, do you really want to be left wondering if the person actually read your email, considering how many emails people get these days? The advantage of a real conversation is that it creates a greater sense of urgency as well. Another thing is that it might make you look like you lack the confidence to actually speak with someone about your salary.
One more drawback to negotiating through email is that sometimes there are some subtle verbal cues that you won’t be able to pick up in an email – like the recruiter’s tone of voice, the words they choose on the phone, etc. Over the phone, you can learn a lot more than through email about whether a recruiter is bluffing or not.
Now, let’s say that you have the recruiter/HR representative on the phone, what do you say? Start with this:
"Hello Mr./Mrs. X....I really appreciate the offer that you have given me, but I'm having trouble accepting it because it's not competitive with my other offers."
What if I have no other offers and I still want to negotiate?
In this case, you can start by saying something like:
"Hello Mr./Mrs. X....I really appreciate the offer, but I'm having trouble accepting it because from the research that I have done and after having spoken to other people in the same position in the industry, I've learned that it is below market rates."
After hearing this, the recruiter may respond by asking you if you have any other offers and, if you do, from what companies and what kind of salary are they offering. You’re under no obligation to tell the recruiter those details and you could say:
"Actually, I keep all my offers private and confidential, out of respect to the companies. And I will do the same with your offer as well."
The recruiter really can’t press you further on this so they may respond by saying:
"Well, what did you have in mind - what were you looking for in your offer?"
In this case, it should be obvious at this point you simply tell them what it is that you want:
"Well I would like to have XYZ..."
Another possible objection is this one:
"We feel that this offer is fair."
And this is another thing that recruiters may say:
"The offer is actually non-negotiable."
When recruiters say that an offer is non-negotiable, that’s usually just a negotiation tactic meant to make you feel powerless – and it’s the same thing when they say that they “feel that an offer is fair” . So, don’t always believe it. Instead just respond by respectfully stating exactly what you want in an offer:
"I understand that. But here is what I was hoping to see in an offer: ....If we could please speak to each other again on the phone tomorrow that would be great."
Remember that the recruiter will almost never change their offer on that very first phone call, so make sure you say something like:
"I look forward to hearing from you soon."
Some other common objections used in salary negotiations
You may hear a large variety of objections from recruiters/HR personnel when you are trying to negotiate your salary, and you can respond to them in the same way that we described above.
Here are some other ones, just so you can familiarize yourself with them beforehand:
“The other team members won’t feel comfortable if we gave out this kind of salary”
“We wouldn’t want to upset the balance of the team by giving out this kind of salary.”
First off, other team members will almost never find out your salary if you do choose to work there – unless you decide to foolishly tell them that information yourself. Generally, when people tell you this, it is a lie. Yes – recruiters do lie when negotiating – get used to it!
It’s also something that’s meant to make you feel guilty for wanting more money. Don’t fall into that trap – it’s just a negotiation trick. The way to respond to both of these objections is to simply say the same thing we said above.
Don’t shop offers around
This is another objection that you might hear:
"If we come back with another offer, then all we ask is that you don't shop this offer around, because we don't want to get into a bidding war."
If you’re not sure what “shopping an offer around means” then we can help explain: Let’s say that you tell company X that company Y is offering you $100,000, which is more than what company X offered you. So, you ask company X if they can beat that $100,000 and they respond with the objection above. Because, if company X then comes back and gives you an offer of $105,000 then they don’t want you to go back to company Y and say “I now have an offer of $105,000 – can you beat that ?”. This process of going back and forth is called “shopping the offer around”, and it’s really annoying to recruiters. It also makes you look greedy. So, this is definitely one objection that you should take seriously, because recruiters can cancel your offer if you do this.
So, here’s what you can say in response to this objection:
“Absolutely - I will not shop your offer around. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Summary of how to negotiate an offer for a new job
The bottom line is that you can negotiate, but you should be prepared with what to expect and you should have reasonable expectations. Don’t feel helpless when negotiating your salary – as long as you are polite and reasonable you will not have an offer revoked. But always remember that the first step to even getting a job offer is to be very well prepared for your interview – and that is exactly what this site is about. So, use it to your benefit! And, if you are a software engineer, then be sure to read our article on How to prepare for a software interview.