6 Tips When Negotiating A Job Offer

Josh Didawick

6 Tips When Negotiating A Job Offer

Whether you’ve been unemployed due to a career transition and the job search has taken longer than expected or you were recruited by a headhunter to leave a perfectly good job, getting an employment offer is a great feeling. It means you made it through what was most likely a rigorous selection process and the employer decided they want to bring you into their team. High praise, indeed.

Even though you made it through the selection gauntlet, you now have to weigh your options based on their offer. This may lead to an opportunity to negotiate, but don’t let that deter you. While it is tempting to jump at the first offer, there may be a lot of value in waiting to accept, weighing your options and negotiating.

Candidates at all levels of organizations and stages of their careers should consider negotiating certain aspects of their job offer. Even if you feel like you have no leverage in the matter whatsoever, take some time to consider these 6 tips when negotiating a job offer.

1. Know the Landscape

As part of your preparation in applying for the job and getting ready to interview, you should have done some research. Your research will inform your negotiation when you consider:

  1. The company
  2. The industry/profession
  3. The labor market.

The Company – You have to have done your homework on the organization in order to know things like their reputation, culture, and compensation and benefits they typically offer. Additionally, some of your research will be done during the interview process. Get a feel for the company by asking probing questions about the job, its responsibilities, how it came available and the department in which it operates. Try to understand the demands of the job, such as if there are busy times of the year when more will be expected than other times of the year. A company that has a sense of urgency in filling a position is in a different position than one that is just testing the waters on filling a new position.

The Industry/Profession – As a professional, you want to be up-to-date on the industry or profession to which you are applying. Different positions will see increases and decreases in demand throughout your career. Obviously, the more in-demand your profession is at any point in time can affect your negotiation. At the very least, understand what the market is paying similar positions to ensure you are getting a fair deal.

The Labor Market – Take a few things into consideration. Is this a position people would likely relocate for? If so, that broadens the labor market quite a bit, but you can never really know who your competition is going to be. On the other hand, if the job is one that is less likely to attract people to locate from different regions, you are dealing with a narrower labor market. Recognize which side your job may fall on and understand those implications as you are thinking about factors you are willing to negotiate.

Ultimately, you want to be informed and have data to back up what you think your salary and benefits should be.

2. Decide What Matters to You

Perhaps the most important advice to heed when thinking about what to negotiate in a new job is what is most important to you. This could end up being a deep, philosophical reflection. Is it family, career or personal growth, working with a certain client? Any or all of these could be important to you. Figure out what is important to you as you negotiate. Depending on the job and its responsibilities, there could be any number of things that matter to you that could be negotiated, such as:

  • Salary
  • Bonus potential
  • Vacation time
  • Flexible time
  • Alternative scheduling
  • Some aspects of your work assignments
  • Travel
  • Retirement
  • Company vehicle
  • Tuition assistance
  • Student loan repayment
  • Commuting assistance
  • Continuing education
  • Membership to professional/industry organizations
  • Attendance at conferences and seminars

Some of these the company will have policies around. Others may be new to them. That doesn’t mean they are completely off the table. You really never know until you start a dialogue.

3. Recognize You Are in a Position to Negotiate

Some job-seekers overestimate their value, but not many. The vast majority of job-seekers do not realize that they are in a position to negotiate with a prospective employer. After all, the organization identified you as the person they want to hire. It usually doesn’t matter if you were top of the list or they only got to you because a few other candidates turned them down. You possess knowledge, skills and/or abilities that they want to employ, and there is value in that. Hiring is a big decision for organizations, not one they take lightly.

4. Act Like You’ve Been There

I always recommend that people take some time to think it over when they field an employment offer from an organization. Don’t waste time, but take the time to reflect on the opportunity and/or discuss it with people like your family or mentor. Then you can get back to them to discuss items you have identified that you would like to negotiate. The only thing you can control is how you react and treat the situation. If you stay calm and act like you’ve been there before, no one will be the wiser if it is the first time you have negotiated with an employer.

5. Tact and Humility Count

Just like you want to act like you have been there, you also want to balance that confidence with tact and appreciation for the opportunity. Negotiations with an employer should not and do not have to be adversarial. If you are excited about the job and they are excited about you, chances are the negotiation process will be a positive experience. They are not going to take your requests personally, but you also want to have thick skin if they decline to meet them.

6. Know Your Limit

It is important for someone negotiating with an organization to understand where their limits are on those important items they have identified. Understanding your values will help you weigh some things you get versus some you may not get. The ultimate leverage you have is knowing that you can turn down the offer. Knowing that requires that you know where the point is that you would back away from the table.

If you find yourself fielding an employment offer, think about these 6 tips before you accept. A small amount of time and negotiation on the front-end could make a huge difference in your earnings, life-work balance and overall enjoyment in your new job.

About The Author

Josh Didawick

Josh Didawick is a seasoned HR professional and consultant with extensive experience creating and guiding organizations’ HR strategies, as well as coaching individuals committed to successful careers. He specializes in taking on complex organizational issues to affect positive change and high performance. For individuals, Josh helps them put their best foot forward when seeking that next career, promotion or milestone in the workplace. Josh has had several articles published and presented at conferences on HR-related topics.

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