Negotiating Job Offers
A very common question that I’m asked is “Should I negotiate my job offer?”. My answer is almost always YES! Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate. After all, you won’t get something if you don’t ask for it. If you accept an offer that is less than you wanted and you didn’t negotiate, you have only yourself to blame. Let’s talk a bit about a process that you can use to help get the best results possible.
Before the offer:
- Do your research. Get as much information about what local organizations are paying for similar positions. There are several websites to review, such as glassdoor.com , www.salary.com, and www.payscale.com that you can use to get a general idea. Ask friends and family for salary info, call other companies and see if they are willing to give you information about their salary ranges.
- Delay if possible. If you can, don’t talk about compensation before you get an offer. If you are asked to give your current salary, don’t. If they are persistent, let them know that you would like to focus more on the total compensation package including career advancement, time off, benefits and learning opportunities. Try to hold off on discussing hard numbers until you get the actual job offer so that you are not be ruled out if your salary is more than they would like to offer. If it is truly part of their process and they won’t move forward without it, start with letting them know the salary range that you would like to receive. If they won’t accept that, be truthful about what you make but be sure that you include any bonuses or commissions that you are eligible for. If you are interviewing with multiple organizations, try to schedule interviews so that any job offers that you receive will come in around the same time so that you can compare them. While I always advise that you let them know that you are interviewing other places, I don’t recommend telling them that you are trying to delay or move up interviews based on the interview schedule of another organization, that might fall flat.
When you get the offer:
- Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. The salary that you were just offered is one piece of the total compensation package. If you are going from a job with 2 weeks of time off and they have 3 weeks, what is that worth to you? Get their full benefits information. If they salary offered meets what you wanted but their health insurance is twice as much as you are currently paying, that is eating into the raise that you just negotiated for yourself. Evaluate any retirement plan that they may have and what the match to your contribution will be. If they match up your 401(k) contributions dollar for dollar up to 5% and you are currently getting a 3% match, that is 2% more going into your retirement account each year which can add up.
- Assume positive intent. Make sure that you walk into the negotiation process thinking that your new employer has your best interest in mind and values what you bring to the table, if they didn’t they wouldn’t have asked you to work for them. Try to negotiate over the phone rather than via email. Be thankful for the offer that you received and let them know that you are excited to be a part of the team but would like to talk about the offer. Specify what you would like to negotiate, salary, time off, sign on bonus. Make sure that you also let them know why you are worth what you are asking for, not in a cocky way, but remind them of what you bring to the table. Whatever you do, do not give any ultimatums. No one likes to held over barrel.
- Don’t be a jerk. Remember, you are negotiating with a person, not a company. People have feeling and emotions so you have to keep yours in check during this process. There may be a lot of back and forth, questions and they may even ask you for documentation. Don’t take this as a bad sign, questions mean that someone is asking for approval somewhere and that is a good thing! Don’t bug people, if they say that they will get back to you, give them time to do that. If you don’t get the answer you want, don’t be a jerk about it, that is a surefire way to burn a bridge.
- Know when to say yes and when to walk away. Always trust your gut and if the organization gets upset or seems offended by your request, you have to think about whether or not that is an organization that you want to work for. Don’t get greedy and don’t negotiate for no reason. If you have a number in mind based on your research and the first offer is 10% above that, what purpose will it serve for you to ask for more base salary? If they say yes to salary but no to telecommute, is it because telecommute is a hard no or is it because the company doesn’t allow telecommute until someone has been with the organization for a while? If it’s a hard no for everything and you feel like they are not offering to compensate you fairly, don’t feel like you have to accept the offer. It is okay to walk away.
- Multiple offers? Good for you! Know which one you are leaning towards. Give them both the opportunity to get back to you by letting them know that you have a competing offer. Be honest and let them each know that you are negotiating so that you get the best possible career opportunity.
After you accept the offer:
- Prepare for change. Get your new offer in writing and turn in your notice. Be sure to do a great job transitioning your current role, create job aid, training etc. Don’t use your notice period to checkout, use it to make sure that you are keeping your mentor, network and friend relationships intact. Update your LinkedIn and learn as much about your new organization as possible. If you talked about a 90-day plan or what you can do to help best prepare yourself for your new role during your interview, start working on that so that you hit the ground running and make the most of your new opportunity.