Let’s face it, most of us don’t like to negotiate, and not much in life surpasses the discomfort of confronting a future employer with a request for more money. But the fact remains that most companies start an offer low, fully anticipating that you’ll negotiate your job offer. If you don’t play the game, you’re likely to leave money and other benefits on the table.
- Be Gracious
- Pause After their Offer
- Be Aware of Small, Low Increases Once Onboard
- Be Prepared to Close the Deal
- Have Confidence
- Accept an Offer On the Spot
- Be Greedy
- Forget About Sign-on Bonuses
- Forget About Benefits
- Forget to Get it in Writing
Do’s – Explained
- Do Be Gracious
Receiving a job offer is a big deal. An offer tells you that of all the candidates a company has met with, you’re the one they want to join their team. Acknowledge the honor by thanking them for the offer.
- Do Pause After their Offer
A quiet moment causes the future employer to wonder if you’re happy with the offer they’ve presented. Immediately, they brace for an upcoming negotiation session and are likely thinking, “how much more money could I get approval for so that I can get this candidate to join our company.”
- Do Be Aware of Small, Low Increases Once Onboard
The best shot you have at increasing your salary is when you’re between jobs. Once onboard at a company, the raises tend to be small living costs (short of a promotion). To make big jumps in your pay, you often have to leave a company, so take advantage of when you’re between jobs to make the most of the increase that you can.
- Do Be Prepared to Close the Deal
When you’re ready, whether that’s a day, a week, or even just a few hours after receiving an offer, follow some version of the following script:
“Thank you for your offer. You offered $X. I was hoping for something closer to $Y. Is there any way we can meet in the middle; if so, I’m prepared to sign today.” It’s the final line, combined with the graciousness that helps speed the deal in your favor.
- Do Have Confidence
Your future employer has likely been interviewing for weeks, if not months, and very much wants to close the search and move on with their new hire. Have confidence in knowing that they’ve picked you, and the last thing they want is to have to start the search all over again. If you’re gracious and reasonable, the worst they’ll do is say no.
Don’ts – Explained
- Do Not Accept an Offer On the Spot
Even if you aren’t comfortable negotiating, never accept an offer on the spot, no matter how wonderful it seems. Always give yourself a minimum of a few hours to think through the pay, inquire about benefits, and consider the whole package. Ask yourself if you have all the details to make the best decision.
- Do Not Be Greedy
Companies will often negotiate, but if you ask for too large of a bump in pay or unrealistic benefits, the company may begin to doubt your real interest in the opportunity. While it’s highly unlikely to rescind an offer once received, you don’t want to cause unnecessary doubt in the manager’s mind.
- Do Not Forget About Sign-on Bonuses
Because bonuses aren’t tied to annual increases like base pay, it’s often easier to get a lump sum bonus than a higher salary. Keep in mind these usually come with the caveat that you will need to repay the money if you leave before a year and that they are also taxed.
- Do Not Forget About Benefits
Companies with tight budgets may not have much wiggle room on pay but may offer more paid time off or telecommuting options. Think about what will make your life easier; is it flex-time so that you can have time in the morning to get your kids off to school? Or is telecommuting for snow days and bad weather in your best interests?
- Do Not Forget to Get it in Writing
If the company comes back with a new offer over the phone, ask for it in writing before accepting. You want a paper trail (email can work) to show the adjusted amounts, benefits levels, and whatever else you’ve negotiated for. Sometimes companies will offer more time off, “off the record,” in some cases, and you’ll have to trust your new manager to honor your agreement, but make sure to get anything tied to money that payroll will be administering in writing.
Negotiating is part of the job search process and, really, a part of life. The confidence in negotiating notably lacks in women, a frustrating legacy of their former roles as “less than equal” in the workplace. Negotiating an offer shows a company that you’re strong and confident, and really, don’t we all want to be perceived that way?