After months of a grueling job hunt, you finally clear all obstacles and land a job. You receive the job offer letter, and find that the salary and other perks are not as satisfactory as you had hoped. Do you just accept the proposal out of desperation, or do you ask for more?
Let’s say you decide to negotiate the job offer. How do you go about doing it?
What if the hiring manager says no? Do you just accept defeat, or do you reject the job altogether?
What if they say yes, but only partially? Do you insist on more, or make your peace?
Negotiating a job offer is tricky. One false move and you may lose your job for good. A little lack of confidence and you lose out on what you deserve. It’s a delicate balancing act. Once you master the nuances of it, you can get the most out of any potential job.
1. The human aspect of it
Don’t bargain on the first call
If you try to haggle over compensation the first chance you get, the company would simply reject you and choose among other applicants. Your mistake is that you tried to negotiate without any leverage.
Wait until the company has selected you, and all that’s left is for you to sign the contract. That’s the perfect time to strike a deal.
The company can’t just reject you and move on with someone else now. They know you’re the best candidate for the job, and searching for a candidate all over again would be a setback. So, they’ll at least consider agreeing to your terms.
Better the impression, higher your chances
It’s simple: people are willing to fight for what they like.
Your initial interactions with the recruiters are your chances to not only prove your capability, but increase your likeability as well. You don’t need to bend over backward or resort to exaggerated compliments. Just be as polite as you can be.
Boasting about your accomplishments, seeming greedy about the salary, or being rude about how you ask for it isn’t going to win any hearts.
Believe that you deserve what you’re asking for
Don’t be apologetic about the money and benefits you believe you are worth. You are not asking for a gift, but the price of your hard work. If you can’t convince yourself of your worth, it’ll be impossible to convince your employer. Don’t sell yourself short.
Highlight what’s in it for them
“I’ll be doing everything any other average candidate can, but you ought to pay me more just because I’m asking for it.” If this is the message you give off, expect a flat-out rejection.
Instead of saying “I want a $5000 raise because my present salary ought to be more than my previous salary,” try saying “I’ll bring something unique to the table,” and demonstrate how.
Show the recruiters not just why you deserve the extra pudding you’re asking for, but how providing it would be beneficial to them.
Express your excitement about the job
No one likes to be someone’s second or third option. That applies to companies as well.
If you’re trying to convince the recruiter by saying how many other proposals you’ve got lined up for you, they might just assume you’re not as devoted to this particular job. That means if some other company pays you more tomorrow, you’ll jump ship in a heartbeat.
Try telling them how much you’d love to do this job instead. If they could consider a few of your wishes, that’ll make it easier to devote yourself to this job. A sincere request like that is difficult to turn down. Not to mention, this will skyrocket your likeability.
2. The bargaining component of it
Research first, negotiate later
Don’t just place any deal on the table; place the deal that is most likely to be accepted. How do you determine that? Through extensive research. Here are the particulars:
- Sites like Glassdoor are helpful in finding out how much employees in your position get paid. Companies usually leave some wiggle room for negotiation. If you know how much that is, you can easily determine the most you can ask for without getting rejected.
- Find out your industry value. Put together your education, work experience, skills, expertise, licenses, and area of residence to figure out what you’re worth in your industry. You can even present this research at the negotiation to strengthen your cause.
Your demands have to be reasonable
Even when research suggests that you can theoretically ask for certain perks, it might not be wise to do so practically. While negotiating a job offer, always consider the following conditions, so that your demands don’t seem unreasonable:
- If the company is hiring multiple people for the same role, you can’t ask for a higher salary for the same work as your colleagues. In that case, it’s prudent to negotiate other terms and conditions like health benefits or paid leave.
- Always present your proposed salary in a range rather than a single figure. It gives the negotiator some options to choose from. The range should be higher than what you’re actually expecting.
- Know when to wrap it up. If they say something can’t be done, no use dragging the matter out. Hiring managers also have certain constraints. It’s unreasonable to expect them to agree because you ask a few more times.
It’s not about the questions, but the intent behind them
When negotiating a job offer, you might be faced with unexpectedly difficult questions.
They could be along the lines of:
“Can you join from tomorrow if we ask you to?”
“Are you prepared to work overtime or sacrifice some holidays if the job calls for it?”
“If you get a job offer with a higher pay three months later, would you leave?”
It might seem that answering honestly is equivalent to digging your own grave, but you need to recognize that the recruiter is only trying to determine your dedication to the job before they accept your demands.
You need to say something that reassures them. It doesn’t mean you will actually have to work on a holiday, start right away, or be obligated to stay.
Salary shouldn’t be your sole concern
A job offer negotiation is not the same as a salary negotiation. So, increasing your salary should never be your sole concern. In fact, job offers that explicitly mention that salary is non-negotiable are still negotiable in other aspects.
Here are a few such factors:
- Job title
- Start date
- Flexible work schedule
- University tuition reimbursement
- Signing bonus
- Laptop, mobile phone, home office technology
- Health and fitness benefits
- Company car
- Training, professional development, and certification costs
- Stock options
- Medical insurance
Weigh all of your options
You must only start negotiating a job offer when you’re sure about the company. If you think that a better offer might come along from another company, wait for it. Ask for some time if necessary.
You might get an offer wherein negotiation isn’t necessary. Don’t negotiate and finalize things with one company, and then ditch them anyway when a better job comes along. It’s called professional integrity.
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3. The tactics of it
State everything at once with adequate emphasis
Say you want a higher salary, flexible working hours, and dental benefits. You must never ask for one thing and when the hiring manager has arranged for it, then ask for another. It’s just annoying.
State everything at once, and emphasize the order of importance. Otherwise, the hiring manager might get you only the dental benefits and think they have met you halfway.
No demands and ultimatums; questions only
“You have to let me work from home three days a week.”
“If you can’t make it happen, I’ll have to reject this offer.”
Demands and ultimatums are childish. They never achieve anything in the adult world, other than an unpleasant atmosphere.
Now, consider this:
“I have a health condition that makes a daily commute challenging for me. Is it possible to arrange an alternative, like work from home, for a few days every week?”
This is how you reach amicable conclusions. A sincere question that compels the hiring manager to provide a solution.
Time your bargains correctly
Some negotiations are better made early, while some can wait for later. Employers often discard a lot of requests early on that they would be more than willing to accept later when they can trust you.
If you think some of your demands fall into that category, better save it for later. Only bring the most urgent demands to the table initially.
Draw the red line and don’t cross it
Some clauses can be a deal-breaker for you. That means if those terms are not met, it would be impossible for you to comfortably carry on with your job. Those are your non-negotiables.
If the hiring manager can’t make good on those terms, you have to be prepared to walk away. There is no use accepting an undesirable job and doing it with resentment.
Get it in writing
After everything is said and done, make sure it is written and signed. Include every minor detail in your contract and have it signed by your negotiator. This leaves them no room to go back on their word.
You have now learned the art of negotiating a job offer. Before you write that fiery negotiation email or ring up your recruiter, make sure you practice this whole act with a business-savvy friend or colleague. The negotiation conversation should be your final performance, not your first rehearsal.
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