12 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer
The job search process was hard. As if that wasn’t enough, another hurdle lies ahead.
You have gone through the first interview and all was well. You got a call informing you of the second one. You are told that this will be a meeting to discuss the job offer. How will it go?
What questions will they ask you? Will you be able to give the right answers? How much are they willing to pay you? If their offer is not good enough, can you negotiate?
It turns out that many candidates don’t negotiate job offers.
They don’t fully agree with the terms and are unhappy about them but still don’t raise the matter. Be it salary or the full package.
For those who do, they face the challenge of not knowing how well to negotiate.
Their poor negotiation skills ruin their opportunity of getting better pay and overall packages.
THE JOB NEGOTIATION
Discussing a job offer is an invitation to the negotiating table.
Here, you are to make a case for your product (yourself) and sell it at the highest price.
The other party is to make a case for their offer and show you how it is perfect. The better negotiator shall come out top.
This gets scary for job candidates. They aren’t sure how to handle it for fear of losing the job.
What they fail to understand, is that they have been given an opportunity to “sell” themselves to the interviewer.
With the right kind of skills, you can make this the best part of the recruitment process. Just as you worked hard to perform well during the interview, you can also perform well in a negotiation.
Here are twelve rules for you to keep in mind when going for that discussion. Use these as tips to help you stay on top of things.
1. Show Your Worth
Since you are here for the second interview, which is a negotiation, then you are one of their preferred choices.
This should boost your confidence levels. It’s now time to impress them further and solidify the argument that you are the best.
You do this by showing them your worth. The key word here is show. You should not merely tell but show.
This means that you will do more than talking. And in the talking, you will choose your words well enough to stick within the boundaries of showing.
To effectively do this, we recommend using the “briefcase technique.”
The briefcase technique has been tried, tested and proven to be effective in all sorts of negotiations. Anywhere you are required to pitch, this technique will work for you.
The technique is pretty simple but powerful. It mostly gets its power from the psychological work it does behind the scenes, i.e. in the interviewer’s mind.
The technique requires you to put in the effort and prepare extensively. Research the challenges intended to be solved by the position.
Document them and come up with a proposed solution. This proposed solution should be complete with time frames and even options.
Then immediately an offer is given, instead of responding to it, you pull your proposal from your briefcase and present it.
This will show that you are proactive and ready for the work. Ensure that you get the pain points well documented so that it cannot be denied.
Watch the below video for a better understanding of the technique.
2. Show Your Availability
In today’s competitive job market, employers know that they are not the only ones looking for talent.
As a result, they are aware of the possibility that you might be going through an interview with another company.
They may ask you some direct, maybe even tough questions intending to know whether this is the case.
You need to remember that you are in a negotiation. In a negotiation, it’s all about the bargaining power.
Th intention of that question is most likely to know how much bargaining power you have. If you are being given an offer elsewhere, then they have to rival that.
If there is no other offer, then you are likely to accept theirs since you need or want the job.
In case you are not considering an offer from a different company, do not lie about it. You do not need to lie to maintain your bargaining power. It may also be exposed and you lose the opportunity.
Make it known to your interviewer that you are available. If you are considering another offer, mention it but let them know that you are interested in discussing their offer too.
This way, you show them that they can actually win you over.
3. Understand Your Interviewer
The person or people interviewing you have only one motive: hire the best candidate and have them accept their offer. This offer is what they are willing to give and would like it to be accepted as it is.
Therefore, throughout the negotiation, remember that every questions and statement made, has an intention behind it.
This means that you should not focus too much on the question asked. Rather focus on the intention behind the question.
With this understanding, you will be better placed to respond to questions and statements.
Since you already know that the questions have some motive behind them, try to recognize the motive.
Once done, address that motive, even if it means answering the question in an unexpected way.
Just be careful not to go out of context with your answer.
4. Can they afford it?
As part of your preparations, make sure you have an offer you are ready to suggest. If it’s the salary, have a figure.
If it’s the vacation and other benefits, have these ready with the arguments supporting them.
You can get salary suggestions from a company like Glassdoor. Their website will tell you the typical salary a person in the position you are interviewing for earns. With this, you can know what to ask for.
Now, that information is not everything. You might get that information but be in a negotiation with a small company which can’t afford that. Check the responsibilities you will have and the kind of work to be done.
If these are not commensurate with the offer and you don’t come to an agreement, feel free to walk away.
In fact, you should save yourself the effort of lengthy discussion if you notice they aren’t likely to budge. A quick overview of the size of the company will tell you whether they can pay well.
Since the job offer is more than the salary, see whether you can get other benefits to cover for a low salary.
Consider something like working from home several days a week or any other benefit you think can make the offer more attractive for you.
5. Prepare Your Defenses
It is often thought that in a job offer negotiation, the hiring manager has the upper hand.
This may or may not be true. It is very much dependent on you since you’ve been invited to a negotiation.
However, some employers are aware of the fact that not many candidates will be very confident in bargaining. They will therefore try to make it tougher for you to make a good case for yourself.
One of the ways through which this can happen is by asking you tough questions. If you haven’t read our article on tough interview questions, that can be a good place to start.
As you negotiate, the hiring manager will also be gauging your abilities. Not only to negotiate, but to reason, influence, and anything else important to them.
This is especially true for a leadership position e.g. manager, supervisor, team leader etc.
It will be important for you to prepare for those tough questions beforehand.
Consider the below question:
If we make you an offer now, will you accept the job? We would like someone to start working immediately.
Notice that first of all, the offer has not yet been made but you’re being urged to make a commitment.
If you are too keen on getting a job, you might rush to say “yes.”
Although you can still negotiate some more after that, it won’t be much.
6. Negotiate the Whole Deal
This is an important one to remember. Do not fix your mind on the salary alone because a job offer is more than that.
The current trend among hiring companies is to offer candidates several types of benefits.
For you, you may be given an offer which has a salary, paid vacation, work-from-home days, insurance and the other normal benefits.
On top of these, you may have stock options as well as any other benefits.
It might be that the company is generous but it might also be that they don’t have much money to pay huge salaries.
However, it might also be a way for the company to complicate offer comparisons. If you are comparing several offers, such an offer can make it difficult to assign a value to it.
In such a position, do a quick analysis and respond accordingly. You can ask some questions like, “What’s the price of your shares?” “Do you pay dividends and if so, what was the last 3 years’ amount?”
Since the complicated offer can make you think you have much, you need to understand that you actually have very little information about it.
Asking these questions will provide you with more information regarding the real value of the stock holding.
With the new details, you will then be able to make a decision.
7. Speak Less, Listen More
Negotiations are highly psychological. And although the end result should be a win-win situation for both parties, everyone usually negotiates for his best interests.
This can only mean one thing: there is some form of winning needed. Not winning while the other person loses but winning in the sense that everyone goes home happy.
One big bargaining chip in every negotiation is information. The person with the most information has better leverage compared to the other.
We can look at a quick example from the complicated offer provided in the above tip (Negotiate the whole deal).
Let’s take the stock offer for example. If you have done extensive research on the company, you might have information on their stock prices.
You might also have information on their dividend payments. If these are not attractive, you can quickly pick that up and suggest something different.
But if you don’t have this information (and you don’t ask for it), you might fall for the trick. You can be deceived by the many things making up the offer and accept it thinking it’s a good one.
To get information from the other party, you need to learn how to listen. This is part of good communication skills and it’s highly valuable.
Normally, the more someone talks, the more they are likely to say things they would rather not have said.
Your employer might know this, especially since they probably do lots of business negotiations. It is upon you to embrace this truth so you can be at the same level.
8. Don’t Rush to Finish
Never be in a hurry to finish the negotiation. Of course the interviewer doesn’t have the whole day and you didn’t go there to chat for hours. Still, do not be in a hurry to finish.
If you feel like you need time to think the offer through, ask for time.
Ask to be allowed a few hours or a day to think about the offer before deciding.
Where you are also considering an offer from another potential employer, this becomes even more important for you. You do not want to quickly accept this offer only to be given a better one when you are no longer available.
If awaiting a response from the other company, try getting enough time from this company. If pressed to make a decision quickly, then request for some hours.
If this is taking place in the morning, inform them that you will confirm by the close of business.
You can then sit down in the quietness of your home to think it through. Consider the changes they made as per your demands.
You can also call the other company and try getting an offer from them. If you passed their interview and they liked you, they might want to make an offer more quickly to see whether they can have you.
The new negotiation can help you decide and confidently make a choice.
9. Don’t Be Bullied
Do you remember we said that some interviewers think they have the upper hand? That they can try to push the candidate to make rushed choices?
It’s necessary to know that you might meet an interviewer who tries to bully you into accepting his offer. This will rarely happen openly but subtly.
It may look as if the interviewer is in a hurry or is simply the kind that go straight to the point and deal with the issue.
Be careful of such situations.
If you are negotiating with someone trying to push you too hard, understand that you might be dealing with a not-so-friendly person.
It is possible that the boss has a personality disorder. Or is subject to extreme mood swings. Whatever the case, be on the lookout for signs of someone trying to force you to say “yes.”
Even if you get exactly what you ask for, it may come at the expense of your joy.
10. Don’t Give Ultimatums
Here is another don’t. No matter how much confidence you have in your abilities, don’t use an ultimatum as a bargaining chip. Never make the interviewer feel like he is being forced to choose you.
In fact, this is the opposite of the above rule. Whereas some employers may try bullying, giving an employer ultimatums can also be referred to as a form of bullying. This can easily put you out of favor with your prospective employer.
Giving an ultimatum is a show of arrogance on your part. You are simply too confident in yourself and your abilities.
This tells the hiring manager that you are likely the kind of candidate who might not follow the laid down procedures. You might break the rules since you feel like you know better.
A question to ponder is, if you are so good that you can give ultimatums, how come you are jobless? Aren’t you supposed to have been in your former employment as an indispensable employee?
If you have never had a job and it’s a long time since you left college, then the conclusion is that other employers have rejected you due to this unwanted trait.
It is necessary for you to balance between confidence and humility. Whereas you should be confident to express yourself accordingly, you should also be humble enough to consider everyone else’s position.
11. Create Room for Further Negotiation Later
Do not be under the impression that you have to negotiate everything perfectly at once. Remember that you have not even started working.
The interviewer has not seen your work for himself. He is only going by what you and your papers say about you.
He has simply trusted you enough to give you an offer.
If they have given in to important demands which you made, consider taking the job. It is while on the job that you can better make a case for the rest of the things you want given.
Maybe you can prove yourself to be better than you spoke of yourself.
Maybe they might be impressed with the results you bring and decide to promote you within 6 months or 1 year. A promotion will bring better deals and another opportunity to negotiate further.
If you try getting too much from the first negotiation, then you might be putting too much pressure.
You might make them want to consider the other candidate who isn’t as good as you are, but is willing to take a lesser package. In any case, he can improve while on the job.
12. Practice With a Friend
You will greatly benefit from practicing negotiations so as to become better at them. Practice helps you build your confidence and become accustomed to it.
This will make negotiations a more natural thing for you to do.
The good thing is that you can practice at any time. Even before going for your job offer negotiation.
One major benefit of practicing with a friend is that you can switch sides and become the interviewer. When you do this, you get to understand the perspective of an employer.
You will try hard to convince your friend to take your offer and see possible responses which you can use.
With your friend taking the employer’s side, you can see what your negotiation is likely to be like. As he tries to get you to see how the offered deal is perfect, your mind will be working on counter-arguments.
This is good preparation for you. With the above 12 rules for a successful job offer negotiation, you will know when to push and where to accept.
You will therefore not go into the negotiation completely green but with some experience.
The apparent toughness of job offer negotiations is largely due to lack of preparedness and experience.
If you follow these 12 rules of negotiating a job offer, you increase your chances of landing a good job with a great package.
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