When it comes to job offer negotiation; nobody teaches us anything about this important topic in high school or even in college. Friends don’t discuss it and rarely do parents talk about it. Even career guidance services do not take up the subject in detail. In reality; most employers are open to negotiation. In fact; many employers offer less salary in the first place because they expect the candidates to negotiate. And yet; only 25% job applicants actually negotiate a job offer. So what are the reasons behind this trend? And more importantly, what are the important things to negotiate in a job offer? Let’s find out:
1. Common reasons why applicants fail to initiate negotiation
There are some common factors that prevent a job applicant from making a negotiation with a potential employer:
- They fear it will be conflicting. In reality; both sides can win if the negotiations go well.
- Many fear that the employer has the upper hand. In reality; employers believe that you, the applicant, have greater power. If you have received an offer; they want you!
- Most applicants fear they will negotiate poorly. This brings us to the next step: doing your research.
2. Homework homework!
When you are well prepared with industry salary data, you know your value in the market. Almost every aspect of a job is negotiable: the location, the number of paid days leave, the bonus etc. The key is to prepare well. So gather all the information you can about the job. You can find a lot of inputs online as well as offline. Speak to people already in the field. You can even talk to your seniors from college. Here are some salary information websites that can help:
Each of these above salary information sites also has country-specific websites. These will give you a baseline figure about the position along with other benefits.
3. Know the ethics of negotiation
There are certain rules and ethics of negotiating a job offer. The main ones are:
- Don’t string along an employer you aren’t interested in.
- If you want extra time to think about the offer, do share with the employer the reasons why you need the extra time for.
- Be polite and thank them for the opportunity. Make sure you let the employer know of your decision as soon as you make it –whether you decline or accept.
- If you are very confused, talk to someone you trust. You could even speak to a professional career growth advisor/counselor to help you with decision making. Counselors are available in colleges or your current educational institution.
- Do not enter the negotiation just for the sake of entertainment or if you aren’t serious.
- Please be genuine about the negotiation process.
- If you aren’t interested, turn down the offer as soon as possible; that way, the employer can offer the position to some other deserving candidate.
- Don’t expect all employers to behave the same when it comes to job offer negotiations.
4. Avoid common pitfalls of negotiation
Here are some common mistakes that job applicants make when it comes to job offer negotiations:
- They underestimate the work involved in the recruitment process.
- Many take too much time to be responsive.
- Some get bad advice about negotiations.
- They do not communicate with career counselors.
- Some appear unprepared for the negotiations.
5. Things to do once you receive an offer
Once you have received an offer, do the following:
- Enthusiastically receive the offer even if it is below your expectations
- Start doing your homework about the current market value, compensation, benefits, scope or responsibility, and start date.
- Ask for time to think about the offer.
- Agree upon a mutual date and respond till that date.
6. Never accept a job offer on the spot
When you receive a job offer, timing is crucial. Always express enthusiasm and interest but make sure you ask for time and not accept the offer on the spot. Carefully consider the details in the offer letter and prepare for negotiations. Remember: your employer is expecting you to negotiate so understand that this is a normal part of the job. Here are important things to reserach before you negotiate:
- What the hiring company needs from this position?
- In what ways do you meet or exceed their expectations?
- How well the position is aligned with your career goals?
7. Strengthen your position
The best way to strengthen your position for job salary negotiation is to do your homework. You should know the market rates and you should be able to justify everything you negotiate. This way you will be in a position to get what you are looking for. For example, even though you know that the rate for the position you are being offered is lower than what you are asking for, justify it by talking about your technical certification or prior experience. Be confident in stating your terms. Never lie or misinterpret your terms.
8. Take the size of the organization into account
Always take into account the organization you are negotiating with. Smaller organizations are often more willing to negotiate than larger ones. Also organizations with unions will most likely allow little room for negotiation.
9. Never take things personally
As stated before, employers expect you to negotiate. But as a good hiring manager, the person interviewing you is supposed to hire the best possible candidate for least amount of cost to the company. At the same time, a job offer negotiation is done so that both parties benefit. So negotiation should never be about forceful tactics. This isn’t a win-lose scenario. It is a two way process. You do your part by highlighting what your skill sets, past experience, education etc you can bring to the table. Never take something personally if the negotiations don’t go your way.
10. Keep negotiations face to face or written
All job offer negotiations are best done face to face in a meeting with the hiring manager or over email. If your terms are accepted, make sure you get a new offer in writing.
11. Know what to and what not to negotiate
Terms like starting date, paid leave, salary amount, work schedule, moving expenses, stock options, flex time, bonuses, use of company car and location of work are usually negotiable. Health and retirement plans are usually non negotiable. This is because they cannot be tailored for individual employees and are rolled out company-wide. So be realistic and professional. Do not create a bad impression by making unrealistic demands.
12. Keep things positive no matter what
Even if things do not go your way, be diplomatic. Make sure you are respectful, optimistic and that you show enthusiasm about the offer. Express your appreciation to the hiring manager for having considered your terms. You need to ensure that you do not lose the offer but also that do not sell yourself short.
We hope these job offer negotiation strategies help you! Good luck!