15 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer
Negotiating a job offer can be a stressful and unfamiliar task, but is an invaluable step in getting the salary and career you deserve.
Not many people are confident enough to go through the negotiation process, especially with the lack of job offers in certain fields, but it is important to add this to your employment process so that you get the best deal.
In addition to your salary, there are several aspects and details of your job that require negotiation in order to ensure that you are accepting the best job offer possible.
Whether you are actively searching and interviewing for new positions or simply want to negotiate a higher salary at your current position, there are several tips and rules that can help you be more successful in achieving your desired Outcomes.
HOW A SALARY NEGOTIATION CAN IMPACT MORE THAN JUST YOUR CAREER
Negotiation in almost every industry is important for any potential hire or current employee.
These days, different jobs and different companies offer employees and candidates compensation in a variety of forms including:
- Stock options
- Company Expenses
Many companies also offer benefits beyond salary including educational opportunities or other types of compensation such as child care expenses, etc.
Because of these complexities, the job market has created several opportunities for negotiating in your favor.
Additionally, in industries with fewer Job opportunities, bargaining power and leverage may be reduced, further highlighting the importance of acquiring and implementing salary negotiating skills.
Even if you plan to stay with your current employer or company, you can still negotiate your current position for a better salary or if you receive an additional offer from a competitor.
For instance, if a competitor offers you a job with a higher salary and several job related perks, you might use this as leverage to negotiate a better deal with your current company.
Oftentimes, a company will match these terms to prevent losing a valuable employee to a competitor.
PREPARING FOR SALARY NEGOTIATIONS
When you are actively applying for a job, you should already be prepared to negotiate your salary with a potential employer.
After the initial steps of applying for a job and interviewing, your future employer will start to discuss your salary which is why you need to be prepared to negotiate. Due diligence is key.
What is your ideal salary?
First, it is important to determine what your ideal salary is, and ultimately what is acceptable to you.
This is also important if you are trying to renegotiate your current position.
Find out what the going rate is for your job in your current location of the country or the area in which you are trying to secure a position.
Study the market
There are several websites, such as Glassdoor, that provide salary ranges for companies or positions in different parts of the country.
This is a great place to start to see what employees in similar positions or in similar companies are making.
But be cautious, as salaries with Glassdoor are not verified and are crowdsourced for its ranges.
Sometimes, it is better to ask around to those who are in the know or have previous experience in certain jobs or industries. If not, you can always check your local labor and employment government estimates for the industry you are in.
Make a work bucket list
In order to be prepared for negotiations, you should also make a list of things that you require and that are up for negotiation.
With any job there will come a variety of questions.
Beyond negotiating the salary, what will the day to day work look like? Will you be required to work the night-shift or on weekends? Will this job require you to relocate or travel a considerable amount of time?
These are all questions that are extremely important for your work life balance and should be answered and incorporated into any job negotiation.
Here are some helpful tips and rules to follow while negotiating a job offer.
RULES YOU NEED TO FOLLOW DURING NEGOTIATIONS
1. Know who you are dealing with.
Again, due diligence is key.
Do your research about what company you are dealing with and more specifically if possible, the individuals you will be dealing with.
A great deal of information can be done online, but can also be used to contact current and past employees who may be in the know.
Here are some things you can do:
Visit the company and take a tour.
Observe what goes on in the workspace.
- Are people running around trying to finish what they are doing?
- Are they lounging around waiting for things to happen?
- Or are they efficiently working without any stress signs in the workplace?
By seeing how people work, you can establish a plan on how to make the company a better place by improving what already works and what doesn’t.
Learn more about the people you will be working for.
Talk to people around the office.
Ask them how they feel about the work they’re doing. Ask them what they are working on and think of ways to help them.
Once you’re in the interview, you can present a plan of action for work issues that may help increase your leverage on the negotiations table.
Find out what the company stands for.
In order for the company to hire you, you need to act as if you are part of the company – a cog in the well-oiled machine that can run more smoothly if you are in the mix.
Find out what the company stands for and make sure that the interviewers know that you know that and you are willing to make sure that they maintain the standards they set up for themselves.
Find out what the CEO and board’s major goals are.
Look the CEOs up and watch and read their interviews.
This will give you an idea of what they want for their company. In return, you can give your future employers a sense of why you feel that the CEOs goals are your own as well.
Create a game plan on how you can improve their overall status in the industry for the long term.
Do this before the interview and present it in the middle of the negotiations.
Once they see that you did your homework and that you have an actionable plan for the company (although, don’t give them the details just yet), they will see you as a valuable asset.
Here’s a tip if you’re not visiting the company: LinkedIn can be a great resource to find current and past employees. Glassdoor also contains postings about the work culture in addition to salary ranges for various types of employees.
Another tip: ask other people on anonymous forums about their experiences with applying to the company you want or how they renegotiated offers in your current company. Try visiting these forums:
By knowing who you are working for, you stand a better chance of knowing how much leeway they give for negotiations.
2. First impressions can close the deal.
Be your best self during the interview so that you have a handhold on the negotiations.
There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so you should be careful not to step beyond that line.
Show the employer that you are a valuable asset by acting like one.
When answering questions, use a nice, even tone. Don’t sound nervous or else they will know that you will be easy to cow on the negotiations.
Give a firm handshake. Sit up straight. And never fidget.
To avoid this, try some meditative breathing before going in to your interview.
Answer questions with authority.
If you’ve done your homework, this will be easy as pie.
If not, you can start answering questions you don’t know the answer to by giving hypothetical answers and starting with the phrases:
- “Without going into detail about the project, I can say that…”
- “Although I don’t have much experience on the subject, it seems to me that…”
- “My field of expertise didn’t give me much time to ruminate on the subject, but I think…”
These phrases show humility, but also the fact that you are willing to think on your feet.
Some employers may see lack of information as a sign of weakness, but they see initiative as a sign of strength.
Do not use phrases like:
- “I’m not sure…”
- “I don’t know…”
- “I can’t answer that…”
Everything has an answer. You just have to know how to give your own answer to a problem that you may encounter in the future.
Ask about the things you might want to know about the company.
- What is the work culture like?
- How many man hours do they go through in a week?
- How are the benefits?
- How do they take care of employees with illnesses or disabilities?
- How do they take care of employees who are pregnant?
The main purpose of this line of questioning is not to find out more about the company, although that helps, but this is designed to show your employers that they have something to prove to you as well.
In the end, this gives you a little semblance of power during negotiations.
The main thing to remember when considering your dress options is to wear what the employees are wearing.
If necessary, visit the company or check out their photos online to see what the people are wearing. If they wear casual clothes to work, however, you must still go through the motions of wearing something business casual and appropriate during the interview.
The main thing to remember is to always iron or press your clothes before an interview.
Being on time is okay, but being early gives you a lay of the land and how people react to your presence.
Are they interested in you? Are you someone they already know?
If not, you can engage with them and maybe even win their vote when the time comes to hire you.
Employee’s opinions matter, especially when they are a tight-knit group.
- Engage with existing employees before your interview.
- Ask them about their personal lives.
- Ask them for a tiny favor – something that isn’t hard to do like helping you find the cafeteria or finding out which areas you can go to see how things work in the office. Hopefully, the Franklin effect will work in this case. (When one asks for a favor from a person, the latter is more likely to warm up to you.)
- Get a lay of the land.
- Know where the departments are.
- Know who the department heads are.
- Ask people how these department heads are like.
Even before you are hired, it is best to know what you are going to encounter. Maybe the questions may even come up in the interview.
Information is key to getting confidence.
The more you know, the more equipped you are to go into that interview room. It is very important to be confident and present an overall, well-polished package as first impressions can certainly close the deal.
Going in to a negotiation confident and poised will definitely work in your favor.
To that end, here is a helpful video for interviewing and negotiating face to face:
3. Convince the other party that your value is worth the price.
Gather your credentials and stress that you are a valuable asset.
The collective worth of your skills, training, achievements and experiences will provide a basis for your worth and value as an employee.
Since they already have been impressed thus far, do not be afraid to self-promote. If you have received awards or recognitions in a previous position, make sure to mention to your future employer that you are a top employee and are well accomplished.
Some accolades and accomplishments you can mention:
- Successful projects that made a difference
- Recommendations from employers
- Awards that you received
- Proof of your contribution to your former company and how it impacted them positively
When the salary negotiations start, ensure that you mention why you are asking for a certain price point in your salary, why you chose that, and why you deserve it. Even if they do not go for it, they will surely know that you a keeper.
You should also be aware of the pay gap so that you can establish a salary that you deserve.
Even in modern times, there is a certain difference between the results of negotiations between men and women; so it is important to distinguish yourself a cut above the rest.
4. Do not pit them against their competitors.
While it is important to understand how a company measures up in comparison to their competitors, you should not pit them against each other.
Never tell them that X company is giving you a higher deal because that just looks like you’re baiting them and put your out of the running.
If a competitor does have a better offer, tell them only when you are asked. Interviewers usually ask who else you are applying to.
Even though some rules say always say you’re applying to one company only, you should be honest and say that you are considering several other companies.
This way, they know who they are up against and it will make it easier for you to negotiate a better outcome because your future employers have an idea of what their competitors are offering.
Here’s how you can tell your interviewers about the competitors without seeming like you are pitting them against each other:
- “I heard you offer x benefits. Your competitor mentioned that as well. What is the difference between yours and theirs?” – This only seems like you want to know why they are better and not the other company.
- “I came here because I heard that your portfolio is much better than your competitor’s. Is that true?” – This will give your interviewers the chance to wow you, which is what they will do once they find out you’re considering their competitor.
- “I was under the impression that your company is a better fit than your competitor. Can you tell me why?” – The same question will yield more details about what you can expect. Your future employer may even surprise you by one-upping their competitor with an additional benefit.
Remember to ask these questions only when it is your turn to do the questioning. Also, don’t start with these questions. Start with company questions instead.
5. Test their limits, but don’t overdo it.
In any negotiation, your goal is settle on an accord that both parties can agree on.
Now you should already have some idea or range of what the company generally offers, so do not be afraid to test their limits especially if the initial offer is a bit low. However, don’t overdo it.
- Align what you are seeking with your bottom line of what you are willing to accept. A good rule of thumb is to ask for more but settle in the middle.
- Another way to test their limits is to ask what benefits are offered and what they can add to the table. It may be an office with a view, a secretary, a company car, etc. Do not demand these, but ask if they can provide these.
- Give them a reason why they should provide what you are asking for and how it can benefit their company as well.
That is the end goal after all – evaluating your importance and profitability for the company.
The question is: Are you worth the extra expenses?
Here are some examples of some negotiation tactics you can use:
- “I like your offer, but I believe that there is more to it. As you can see, I can help you increase your profits with my credentials.”
- “The offer seems fine, but are there other benefits included in this salary package?”
- “How do you feel about this number? I can assure you that what I can do for this department is worth the added expense.”
Do not be negative about their offer. These types of questions show that you appreciate their first offer, but that you are interested in more for the price of what you can give in the long term.
6. Be an authority in your field.
An important part of a job negotiation is to present yourself as an authority in your field. This includes being able to present the skills and experiences to as an expert but also being able to ask important questions related to the job and company.
If you are seeking a similar position in your industry as something you have great experience with, do not be afraid to list down your experiences and accomplishments to illustrate why this makes you a great candidate for the position.
This will increase your value in their eyes and support the idea that you are invaluable for this position.
- You can also mention this when the negotiations start. If they give you a low offer, you can raise the bar and tell them you’re an expert in the field – one that can raise the overall value of the company. With that being said, you feel like you deserve a little more than the initial offer.
- You should also demonstrate your talent and skills by solving a problem for them right then and there. Or you can pose a problem and explain how you would solve it.
- It is also a good idea to demonstrate a scenario where you can help them get more revenue for their company. But don’t give them the whole plan, just give them a preview of what they can expect if they hire you and you can do the rest once you are an employee.
7. Look beyond the work questions.
When employers ask you questions during interviews, they’re not just looking for the right answer.
They are also gauging how quickly you react and how your answer surpasses the other applicants before you. They may also ask questions that are meant to gauge if you are willing to stand down or fight for the salary you are asking for.
- When this is the case, consider their intent when asking questions. You may feel they are just testing your capabilities, when really, they’re looking for ways to see how much you are willing to give during the negotiation.
- To ensure that you don’t seem like the type to stand down, keep showing them that you are confident in your position and that you are only willing to give a little. You deserve a certain amount and they can’t change that; however, show them that it’s okay to ask by answering their questions politely, confidently, and efficiently.
8. Negotiate the entire deal, not just the money.
Don’t just ask about the money. Find out every detail about what the job entails.
- Does the job require you to work more than the standard 40 hour work week? Or on weekends?
- Does it require you to travel?
Many companies might offer a lower salary base but provide job and educational opportunities that can be very beneficial for your career.
These are all details that you should find out upfront while there are still negotiations on the table. These details can also be used to negotiate a higher salary.
Some people have certain obligations outside the company, such as raising a family, taking care of a loved one, and other circumstances that may require a little bit of leeway at work.
A great work-life balance is essential for any employee in order for them to shine in the field, so explain to your superiors that there are some things that you need in order to function well in the office.
That could be hours or days off from work for family events at school. It could also be benefits that include your family. You may also want to ask for a specific number of days of work.
However, you gotta give a little in order to get what you want. This means that you need to prove to your employers that asking for these additional benefits will not affect your work or the revenue of the company.
In fact, tell them that it will improve your performance because you have a healthy work-life balance.
9. Discuss everything that you need.
Don’t add more before the negotiation ends. It is important to make all your needs known before the final offer. Don’t say, “Oh, I also need this.”
Because that will only annoy your employer and they will realize that someone like you is not a benefit to the company.
They need someone exact, precise, and direct.
So, give them all the details before and during the back and forth of the negotiation. Do not try to squeeze in one more thing before you sign the deal.
The premise of this is that you look flakey and opportunistic when you add to the negotiation before signing. It sets the stage for the rest of your career with the company.
Unless you are a prodigy, don’t even try to ask for something else when the time comes to shake hands.
10. Negotiate only the important aspects of the deal.
Avoid nitpicking the little things. It is important to understand that in any negotiation you will likely not get everything that you propose or are ask for.
Therefore, it is important to focus on the bigger and more important aspects of the deal and avoid stressing the minor details. To reiterate, focus on the things that you absolutely require.
This means that you are not entitled to special benefits that are not extended to other employees. You are not a celebrity who has to have 100 white roses in their dressing room before they can perform.
With that being said, here are some things that you should not ask for:
- Special treatment
- Unnecessary toiletries
- Anything that will sound stupid in a conference room. I’m just being frank here.
Ask only for what is practical and beneficial to your work environment. For example, asking for a humidifier when you can afford one is a bit of a stretch. So is asking for a minibar in your office on your first day.
11. Consider the timing of accepting the offer based on how early it is given.
Don’t just accept the first offer that you receive. Usually the first offer has some room to move in your favor so it is important to engage in negotiations even if the first deal has most of the aspects that you require.
You might end up negotiating a higher salary or bonus because you considered the timing of the offer.
Most of the time, employers will ask you what salary you are expecting.
This is where your research comes in. It is best to add 25% to the highest possible salary someone at your experience level and resume juice can ask for.
This way, you can either end up with a higher salary than you expect or the median salary for the industry and position you are applying for.
You should also be careful of deadlines. Some companies will give you a deadline for a decision and this is another opportunity for negotiation. You may need time to consider other offers, so it is pertinent that you set the time for the decision.
However, do not give a late offer because other people are in line for your dream job.
12. Do not give ultimatums. Ask for compromises.
While negotiating, it is important to seek compromises and not give ultimatums. Employers hate that. Unless they are actively wooing you for a certain position, you are not entitled to give ultimatums.
If you are a champion free agent in the NBA, then you can give ultimatums.
Ultimatums show that you are making a power play where it is inappropriate.
You cannot say, “I won’t take the job unless I get a corner office.” You say, “I would like a corner office.” And they will decide whether or not to give you that. If they refuse, your only rebuttal should be a counteroffer.
You should be willing to reach an agreement where both parties are satisfied.
The negotiation can also set the tone for your employee-employer relationship so it is important that you strive to seek fair and mutually beneficial outcomes.
Also, announcing an ultimatum when you’re not yet hired shows lack of understanding of the negotiation process in a corporate environment.
Always remember that negotiations are back and forths – not one-sided.
13. Estimate a higher value for yourself, but don’t overvalue yourself.
It is very important to promote a higher value for yourself. In your job negotiation, you should present a tangible list of skills, experience and achievements that demonstrate your worth and should do so in a confident manner taking care to not come across as arrogant.
Estimate a higher value for yourself, but do not overdo it.
As mentioned before, set a salary goal for yourself but when asked, you should tell them an amount that is 25% higher than what you expect to be the highest possible rate.
Some signs to look out for if the deal may be going badly:
- Body language – Frowns, leg crossing, arm crossing, leaning back.
- Telling you they’ll think about it.
- Asking if you can go lower than the lowest possible amount you’re asking for.
When this happens, you should not leave the room yet. Follow the next rules instead.
14. Even if you don’t like the deal, do not announce it.
During any negotiation it is important to remain composed even if the deal is not swinging in your favor.
Even if you do not like the deal, do not announce it and remain respectful and poised throughout the process.
Your ultimate goal is to get the other party to agree to your bottom line or list of things that you must have in order to accept a deal.
If you do not like the offer, renegotiate again.
Tell them if there is any way you can acquire your salary goal, with the stipulation that you will provide something for them in return. For example:
- Acquiring a work goal they haven’t yet achieved
- Getting them a client they need
- Additional work hours in a certain area of expertise
- Research and data for a department that needs it
Anything else you can offer, put it on the table now before they withdraw everything else.
15. Give your final offer and thank them for your time.
Hopefully, by the time you are willing to present your final offer, you have discussed all of your needs and have demonstrated that your value as a potential employee.
Offer your final deal, and thank them for their time and consideration. It is not an ultimatum but all of the terms that you are set on.
Here is what you say:
- “I will think about it and let you know. But please think about my counteroffer as well. I promise you that it will be worth it.”
- “Thank you so much for that offer, but I need some time to think this through. However, I hope you consider my counteroffer for a time as well.”
- “I understand and I will consider this. Please think about what I’ve told you today as well. I hope to talk to you soon.”
By asking them to rethink their position, there is a slim chance that they will call you back with your counteroffer on the table. If not, you can decide if you want to accept their offer or look for other options.
Do not see this as a loss.
See this as an opportunity to let them think about what you presented and let them weigh the pros and cons of hiring you based on the final outcome of the negotiations. Wait for their call thereafter.
If you do not receive a call within the week, continue your efforts with other companies who are willing to negotiate as well.
In the business world, there is no end in opportunities. You just have to grab them and see how everything falls into place.
Lastly, do not adjust your expectations just to get the next job offer.
Stand your ground and repeat everything mentioned above. Out of all the places you apply to, someone somewhere will see your worth and give you exactly what you deserve.
Overall, there are several tips and rules to follow while you are negotiating a job offer.
First, it is extremely important to do your due diligence and know upfront what you require to settle on an offer.
It is also important to know what a potential employer offers beyond the salary, such a job training and educational opportunities as these can be used in your favor during a negotiation.
You should also use your list of tangible skills and experiences to demonstrate your value to a potential employer.
Confidence can go a long way and put your best foot forward to securing you dream job and package.
Lastly, remember that it is a negotiation – that both parties need to seek a mutual agreement in order for the job to be a good fit for all parties involved.
Following these simple rules will help to prepare you to nail any job negotiation that comes your way.
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