HOW TO NEGOTIATE A JOB OFFER
By ConnectPoint Search Group
When interviewing for your next career move, it is essential to prepare for one of the most important steps in the hiring process: how to negotiate a job offer. While the market remains flooded with talented professionals competing for the same opportunities, accounting and finance and technology professionals are still amongst those least affected by unemployment. What does this mean? There is often wiggle room in a job offer and most employers are prepared to negotiate to hire the talent they need. The following tips will help you to prepare for how to negotiate a job offer, including salary and benefits, and manage counteroffers.
WHY NEGOTIATION IS IMPORTANT
Research shows that failing to negotiate a job offer could cost you over one million dollars over the course of your career.1 That is a lot of money, right? When you prepare for your interview, ensure to do your market research, and consider your worth; properly preparing for offer negotiation will help to put that hard-earned and well-deserved money in your pocket, where it belongs.
PREPARE TO NEGOTIATE A JOB OFFER
DO YOUR RESEARCH
To understand the current market in the area and industry that you are interviewing and how your skills and experience measure up to competition, it is important to do your research.
Research Your Local Market
What are competitors paying for similar positions? Research your local market by utilizing resources, such as Glassdoor or Salary.com. Such sites may also offer insight into the organizations that you interview with.
Also, if you are partnering with a Recruiter in your career search, lean on your Recruiter to share this information with you! At ConnectPoint Search Group, we are Market Experts and have the current salary information that you need and can guide you accordingly. For more information about partnering with a Recruiter in your career search, check out our blog “Tips for Partnering with a Recruiter.”
Measure Your Skills & Experience
How do your skills and experience measure up to other professionals in your market? Be brutally honest with yourself to determine if what you bring to the table is below average, average, or above average. In other words, are you new to the industry with minimal experience (below average); do you have a few years under your belt with broad experience (average); or, do you have several years of experience and can be considered an industry expert (above average)? Do you consider yourself an exceptionally quick learner and has your career thus far shown excellent progression? Measuring where you compare to other candidates will help to determine what salary will be fair to request.
Research the company that you are interviewing with. Are they in growth mode or have they recently downsized? Are they hiring multiple people for the same position or just one? These details will all factor into how much wiggle room a company has for job offer negotiation.
KNOW YOUR WORTH
Know your worth and enter negotiation prepared to sell yourself. Confidence is key and you must know your value to negotiate well. Now that you have completed your research and have a good understanding of how your skills and experience compare in the market, be confident in what you have to offer. Also, tailor your selling points to the specific position; why are you so uniquely qualified for this job that you merit the salary you request? If you enter a job offer negotiation hemming and hawing about why you deserve the salary you request, the employer is much less likely to make a consideration and you could end up leaving a portion of that million dollars on the table.
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVELY NEGOTIATING A JOB OFFER
TIMING IS KEY
Be mindful not to rush the subject of salary. While it is beneficial to have a conversation early in the interview process to ensure that both you and the employer are on the same page, it is recommended to wait until you receive an offer to begin salary negotiations.
“WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTED SALARY?”
Whether during an initial phone screen or during the first rounds of interviews, it is likely that you will encounter this question and it is important to have a response prepared. In the early stages of the interview process, turnaround is fair play, and we recommend tactfully answering this question with a question about the salary range that is being considered. For example:
“I would like to learn more about the position and required responsibilities before discussing salary.
May I ask what salary range is being considered for this position?”
Asking the interviewer this question will communicate that your priority is to learn if the role is a good fit for you and most employers will respect that. What next?
Above or At Your Target Salary Range
If your target salary fits within the range that the employer presents, thank them for sharing the information and confirm that your target salary is within the range.
Lower Than Your Target Salary Range
If the range that they present is lower than what you are seeking but still within a reasonable range of negotiation, communicate that the range is lower than your target but that you would like to continue learning more about the position. Why? As previously noted, it is a candidate’s market, and most employers are prepared to negotiate a higher salary to hire the talent they need.
Outside Your Target Salary Range
If the salary range that the employer presents is much lower than your target salary, it is best to have an honest conversation and save wasted time for both you and the employer. Share that the range is outside your target salary and inquire if there is any room to increase the salary for the right hire. If the answer is no, thank them for their time and consideration and move on.
NOTE: Based on California Labor Code Section 432.3, it is unlawful for an employer (or agent representing an employer) to inquire about your salary history.
DETERMINE YOUR NUMBER
Now that you have considered all the details and understand where you measure in the market, what is your target salary? Consider salary on its own; you have a bottom dollar number that you know you cannot accept an offer below and a salary goal – determine both numbers to be prepared for negotiation. However, it is not recommended to name a salary range when negotiating a job offer (more details on this, below). Additionally, consider salary as part of the entire compensation package and be prepared to negotiate a compromise if the salary expectations cannot be met.
CONSIDER THE ENTIRE COMPENSATION PACKAGE
A job offer includes more than just a salary, so it is important to step back and consider the entire compensation package. Is there room for compromise? For instance, if the salary expectations cannot be met, is there an option to negotiate additional benefits to help make up the difference?
The following are common in offer negotiation:
- Sign-on bonus
- Bonus structure (monthly, quarterly, or annual – added or increased)
- Vacation time
- Remote work flexibility
- Job title
- Relocation expenses
- Tuition reimbursement
- Start date
- Professional development opportunities
When you consider the entire compensation package, also factor in how the position would affect your work-life balance.
BE PREPARED FOR CHALLENGING QUESTIONS
Ultimately, the employer has a bottom line to protect, so do not be alarmed if your number is met with some tough questions. Here are some that you may encounter:
- Are you currently considering other offers?
- Do you anticipate a counteroffer from your current employer?
- If we can meet your compensation package expectations, will you accept the offer today?
- If we offer you X, will you compromise on Y?
Keep in mind that you are under no obligation to reveal which other companies that you are currently interviewing with or in negotiation with. However, it will benefit you to be prepared with responses to such questions, so ensure to prepare ahead of time.
While salary negotiations can feel tense, keep in mind that it is a normal part of the hiring process, so it is in your best interest to remain poised, professional, and positive throughout the process. If you are pushy or rude, you risk giving the hiring manager a negative impression or risking the offer. When negotiating a job offer, be mindful to:
- Keep your emotions in check
- Leave your ego at the door
- Remain poised, professional, and positive
- Maintain enthusiasm for the position
- Consider compromise; if your desired salary is not an option, can other aspects of the compensation package be altered to meet your expectations?
NEGOTIATING A JOB OFFER
When a verbal job offer is made, the employer will either present a compensation package with a named salary or ask you directly to name your number.
NAME YOUR NUMBER
Outside of a general discussion regarding the employer’s budgeted salary range for the position, as noted above, the first number that you name in a salary negotiation will set the stage and influence possible outcomes, so it is crucial to name the right number. When an employer inquires what salary you are targeting, factor in your market research, your skills and experience, and all the details that you have learned about the position to determine a fair and mutually acceptable salary.
Name a specific number for your target salary, instead of a range, to avoid leaving room for the employer to make an offer at the low end of your request. Further, consider including a small cushion that is slightly above the actual salary you desire; this will leave room for negotiation and ensure that you are still satisfied with the salary if the offer is lower than what you ask for.
When you name your number, keep it positive and ensure to highlight any key factors that contributed to determining the salary you request. For example:
“Considering the responsibilities of the position and size of the team that I will be responsible for managing, I believe that $__ is a fair starting salary.
I am very excited by the challenges that you have described and am confident that my __ skills/experience make me uniquely qualified for the job!”
If the employer presents a number, it is not uncommon that the suggested starting salary may be a deliberately low figure, in anticipation of negotiation. If you did your research prior to the interview, you will know if the offer is low, based on the market, industry, what you bring to the table, and what the job entails. Now is the time to negotiate.
Before naming your number, reiterate your excitement and your confidence that you are well fit for the position; then suggest your requested salary. Yes, this process can be nerve-wracking but keep in mind that it is unlikely that an offer will be rescinded simply because you opt to negotiate. Remain poised, professional, and positive and present your figure.
Below is an example of what to say when negotiating a named salary:
“I am very excited about the opportunity to join your organization and I am confident in the value that I would add to your team!
I appreciate your offer, however, based on my experience and the market research that I completed, I would like to propose a slightly higher starting salary of $__.
Can we look at that salary for this position?”
In today’s competitive market, it is not uncommon for top talent to receive multiple job offers to select from. Additionally, you may also receive counteroffers – either from your current employer in response to your notice or from a competing employer who has also made you an offer.
CURRENT EMPLOYER COUNTEROFFER
Having to replace a talented professional can create quite a headache for an employer so it is not uncommon for an employer to respond to a resignation notice with a counteroffer. If you receive a counteroffer from your current employer, ask yourself this very important question: why are you considering leaving the company in the first place? If it truly comes to negotiating a more enticing compensation package, perhaps accepting the counter may be worth it. However, that is generally not the case; most employees will not consider other offers if they are truly satisfied in their current position, even if the salary is higher. Deep dive into why you are considering moving on from your current employer; make a list of pros and cons and measure if making a move will be the best option for you.
Whether you are active or passive in your career search, consider why you are considering new opportunities. If you accept a counteroffer from your current company to stay, will you be contented in the long run?
Consider the following when deciding whether to accept or decline a counteroffer from your current employer:
- Nothing changes except the compensation package.
- What opportunities are there for career progression?
- Does the employer fit into your long-term career goals?
- Does your current position fit into your long-term career goals?
- Do you feel appreciated by your current employer?
- Does your current salary reflect the current market?
- Are you excited about your current job duties?
- Does the schedule you currently work allow for work-life balance?
- What is your relationship with your manager and other company leadership like?
- Do you enjoy the team you work with?
- Does the company culture its values fit who you are?
- How is your commute?
- Do you have remote flexibility?
If you are interviewing with multiple employers, you may receive multiple offers. In this case, if you accept one offer and decline another, you may receive a counteroffer from the competing employer. Consider why you are attracted to each offer and measure which will ultimately be the best career move for you.
PARTNERING WITH A RECRUITER IN YOUR CAREER SEARCH
If you are partnering with a Recruiter in your career search, one of the many benefits is that Recruiters can often help to negotiate the most rewarding compensation packages for you. For more information, check out our blog “Tips for Partnering with a Recruiter.” Are you ready to begin your career search? We can help! Begin your search.