A job offer and the potential salary and benefits that come with it are something to be excited about. But before you sign any paperwork, read the fine print and look over the offer. There’s likely room to negotiate for a better deal than the initial contract, and there are some steps you can take to boost your employment package. Here’s how.
Consider roles and responsibilities
It’s important to engage in the interview process and learn as much as you can—mainly so you’ll understand your role and responsibilities. However, it will also help to shed light on the value the company places on the position. This will empower you in the negotiation process later.
“Ask to meet with the people [with whom] you will work, manage and collaborate,” says Katie Donovan, a salary and career negotiation consultant and owner of Equal Pay Negotiations LLC. “Departmental structures and organisation charts will point to your place in the organisation’s food chain, and indicate the role’s importance, which will give you leverage. You will also have specifics to use when researching what the current industry standards are for that occupation’s average wage.”
Let them make the first move
While the interview is an important time to get to know the company, job responsibilities and what your day-to-day life would look like there, there are some questions better saved for when the interview process is over. “Many candidates want to find this out sooner rather than later so [they] bring up compensation, flexibility and other employment package elements during the interview,” Donovan says. “It is to your advantage to wait until the offer. It is at that point the company has fallen in love with you and will engage in negotiations. Talking about it before you are the best candidate easily turns you into an also-ran candidate who never gets the offer.”
Once you’ve received a job offer, you can begin to determine whether or not you should accept the position. Donovan says, “Aim for the perfect employment package and know your personal walkaway items. You have options no matter how many deal breakers are in the offer. Address them first as a group of items. Say something like, ‘I am very excited about the opportunity to work with you but there are a few items in the offer that are making it difficult for me to accept it. They are A, B, C and D.’ Then walk through each of the items with the manager to explain why they are difficult. ‘A, the pay is below current market value, B, the [paid time off] is less than I currently have, C, I currently work from home two days a week and would need to keep that same kind of arrangement, etc…’ Then be quiet and let the employer figure out what to offer to you next. You will find that employers are open to getting the right package for employees.”
Have several plans ready
After the initial salary offer has been extended, and you’ve countered with the salary or supplementary perks you want, give the employer time to come back with their offer. You’ll likely be able to gauge how their decision will go based on their need to hire you, and the interactions you’ve had with the company up to this point. While they’re preparing their decision, be ready to prepare yours. What counteroffers will you accept? What will you do if they refuse your proposals?
“At the end, if a deal breaker cannot be negotiated away, say no. Surprisingly, sometimes the employer comes back with another offer – but do not expect it,” Donovan says. “Truly be ready to walk away.”