How to Handle Job Offers: The Art of Negotiating
You’ve done it!
You’ve followed all the steps to be the perfect job candidate and now you are getting job offers. It’s exciting and you might be tempted to accept the first person to contact you, but slow down!
Your hard work has finally resulted in the ability to make the best decision for you. This contemplation of your options keeps you from making a poor decision that is counter-intuitive to all the work you put into your job search. This stage of the process requires as much thoughtfulness and reasoning as all the other steps.
Do I Take the First Offer I Get?
I’m sure by now you know our answer is a resounding NO! But that isn’t to say you won’t eventually circle back to the first option. You just need to take the time to consider if the offer is right for you, and overall the best choice.
Getting that first offer is exciting – we know, but don’t let yourself fall into the trap of jumping at the first opportunity and missing your dream position or the prospect of negotiating a better offer.
We aren’t implying that you should turn down your first offer just because it was the first but let the fact that you got the offer bolster your confidence and help you realize your worth. Then, use that confidence to help evaluate if an offer is worth it or needs some negotiating.
Is This a Good Offer?
Earlier in the process, you assessed what the key elements are for your target career. Here we’ll come full-circle and assess how the offer matches up with our original goals. As you assess your offer, consider these things:
Compensation – Does the pay fall within your desired range? Will you be able to not only survive but begin saving and advancing your life based on the salary offered?
Benefits – Which benefits are most important to you and which benefits are offered by the company? Think about medical coverage, retirement contribution, flexible schedule, travel requirement, overtime expectation, etc.
Career Target – Does the position align with your values, interests, and goals. Consider what you’ve learned about yourself during your self-evaluation.
Career Development – To continue to progress people need to have growth opportunities in the position they accept. Will the offer you are considering provide this? Will you be stuck in the same position until you move to another company?
Work/Life Balance – As we get older our lives become more complicated with more stress. Does the demand of the job match the amount of energy you can commit to your career?
Company Strength – The perfect position can prove to be anything but if the company is failing. How is the company’s reputation, turnover, industry health?
What If an Offer Only Matches Most of My Needs?
It isn’t reasonable to think that every offer you get will tick 100% of your boxes.
Companies are focused on trying to get the best they can for the least they can within the scope of reason. After all, if you will sign on for 60k a year why would they offer 80k upfront?
This is where the art of negotiation becomes your best friend.
We often refer to negotiating as an art, but don’t think it’s something you have to be naturally good at. We have lots of tips to help you negotiate well and increase your chances of bettering your job offers.
First, let’s take a look at some details are usually negotiable with an employer:
- Vacation Time
- Signing Bonus
- Technology Stipend
- Training or Certification Costs
- Relocation Expenses
- Start Date
These are details that might be the deciding factor for you when it comes to a job offer. You shouldn’t settle for a job that doesn’t meet your personal goals, but don’t give up on an otherwise great job without trying to negotiate. To prepare for your negotiation, start by asking yourself.
Why do you deserve the changes?
You can’t expect anybody to bend over backward to make changes to your job offer if you can’t eloquently justify why you deserve the change.
If you walk in demanding a five thousand dollar pay increase, you need to be able to back it up with “I have more than your required level of experience and we already discussed me taking a leadership position with the team,” or some other fun trivia that you can use as leverage.
Keep the person you are speaking to in mind.
Who are you negotiating with? Is it an HR representative or your future boss?
You need to be aware of who you are speaking to, what their abilities and constraints are, and how you want them to perceive you. An HR rep may be unable to make large-scale changes, so you might need to be a little more frugal with your requests.
Similarly, a potential boss might take offense to a dissatisfied tone. If you give off a demanding personality, they might decide you are more trouble than you are worth. Which is why you should always be assertive, yet respectful.
Mentally prepare to be questioned.
Regardless of who you are negotiating with, you should be well-prepared to answer a lot of questions. After all, before a company can decide the value of making a negotiation, they need to get a whole look at what they might be losing.
Some questions you might have to answer are:
- Have you received any other offers?
- If another company makes you an offer today, will you take it?
- If we approve these negotiations, will you be prepared to sign a contract with us?
- Are we your current top choice?
The way you answer these questions is imperative. If you gush about the company too much you lose the high ground. If you make them think you have a dozen other company’s nipping at your heels, they may move on to the next candidate.
While you should answer your questions truthfully, you should try to prepare yourself to make eloquent, non-insulting answers.
Question: “Are we your number one choice?”
Answer: “In terms of work-environment, benefits, and values, your company tops my list. Unfortunately, without renegotiating the salary I would still have to move on to another company.”
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind:
- Get the offer in writing.
We hate to say it, but not every potential employer you meet is going to be a standup individual. They might be willing to promise you the sun and the moon to your face, but those promises mysteriously find themselves missing in your final contract. Always, no matter what, get an offer in writing. It isn’t rude to ask, and if an employer tells you it is, they likely have ulterior motives.
- Ask for a set amount of time to consider the offer.
You should be allowed time to consider an offer, but an employer can’t wait indefinitely, never knowing when you are going to make up your mind. Letting the employer know you need a set amount of time gives them a date to expect communication and also lets them know you are serious about the negotiations.
- Discuss the offer with a mentor or friend.
If you aren’t sure if you are getting a good offer – or if you worry your excitement is clouding your judgment – speaking with a trusted mentor or friend is a good choice. They can give you advice based on your best interests while remaining unbiased to the charms of whoever you have been negotiating with.
- Request more responsibility to boost pay.
If you are being told they can’t offer you more pay for your position, consider requesting more responsibilities. If you are doing more work for the company than previously negotiated, they may find more wiggle room with the budget.
- Be prepared for a lot of back and forth.
Negotiating a job offer is a process. It is a conversation that takes place over time and multiple conversations. An employer should give you a time frame within which you should hear back from them, so don’t find yourself tempted to call the company every day to ask about your offer.
- Get the offer in writing.
Seriously, it bears repeating.
Closing the Deal
This is it.
You found the company for you, you negotiated your salary and benefits, and now it is time to finalize your contract and begin your new career.
Are you proud of yourself? You should be!
When you arrive at an offer that works for you, be certain to get the offer in writing and read through any contracts, non-disclosures, non-competes, and benefits packages very carefully.
If something pops up that makes you change your mind, be sure to let the company down with grace. You never know if you might be doing business with them later on.
If everything looks good to go, sign those documents, sit back, and relax.
All your hard work has paid off!