Q: Do you have any tips for negotiating a job offer?
A: You’ve probably heard the saying that, in business, “everything is negotiable.” However, when it comes to hiring and job offers, there are some areas that are more negotiable than others. For instance, when it comes to benefits or practices that are standard for all employees – such as healthcare benefit policies, retirement fund matches and one-time annual bonuses that all staff are eligible for – employers are less likely to negotiate special considerations around these for one employee.
What is accepted as negotiable? Base salary, sign-on bonuses, vacation time, parking and other commuting expenses are the most popular areas for negotiation during the job offer process.
Here are some tips for negotiating these areas:
- Keep things in perspective – Benefits are commonly referred to as “perks” for a reason and they shouldn’t be the main reason you’re interested in the job. Keep your focus on the job and what it will mean to you.
- Maintain your enthusiasm for the job – Throughout the negotiation process it’s important to let the employer know how excited you are for the job and that you’re looking forward to starting work. Don’t let the negotiations take over or cloud your enthusiasm for the new opportunity.
- Analyze the situation – Don’t automatically assume you should negotiate an offer. Try to evaluate the offer based on concrete facts specific to your situation, such as how the salary and benefits compare to your last position. If there’s something you’re interested in negotiating, try to make a job-related case for granting it. For instance, instead of asking to leave early twice a week, explain that you’d like to leave early so that you can get to a class that’s relevant to improving your job skills.
- Consider the big picture – Negotiations, and an employer’s response to your proposed negotiations, aren’t just about you. The employer often has to consider ‘internal equity’ and ensure that employees of an equal grade and working in similar roles are compensated within the same payscale. I.e. the employer can’t offer new employees compensation that is significantly above that of current employees who work in the same role.
- Have a story – Practice articulating the reason you’re pushing back on the job offer and make sure it’s realistic, i.e. not just that you feel you’re worth more or that you were underpaid in your last job. Be able to say, “Here’s what I’m looking for and this is how I came up with it.” For example, instead of saying that you won’t take the job unless you can get a 10 percent salary increase, say “I told myself I wouldn’t leave my current job unless I got a 10 percent raise because I’m not the type of person that enjoys jumping around from job to job. I’d like to make sure the compensation is worth it because I hope to stay for awhile.” This way you give the employer a good reason (you’re a stable, solid contributor) to consider paying you more.
About the Recruiter
Greg Menzone is a 10-year veteran of the staffing industry who has made hundreds of successful placements. Greg and the team he manages specialize in direct hire placement of accounting and finance professionals.