Job Offer Negotiation Advice

Know how to negotiate a job offer with a prospective employer. This article offers advice on how to uncover the right information, what questions to ask and how to stay fully informed.

One of the most exciting experiences we can face in life is the prospect of starting a new job. We can literally feel the buzz as anxiety and self confidence ebb and flow through the interview process. Afterwards, we will occasionally catch ourselves staring into space, tapping our fingers, sneaking glances at the phone and eagerly checking our e-mail to see if we’ve had a response. Then, that magical moment comes – we get the job and they want to talk about the job offer. What are we going to do next?

Preparing to Evaluate the Job Offer

If we haven’t already done so, the most vital task is to prepare before we meet with our prospective company to discuss the job offer. What do we need to know before we meet with them?

Research the Company/Organisation

We need to learn everything we can about our prospective employer and there are many sources available to us, including:

Research the website or contact the organisation’s public relations’ office to obtain any available publication packages. Additionally, we might also obtain valuable information from newsletters and press releases.

Obtain the organisation’s financial annual report that they prepare for stockholders. We can glean much information from this about its financial status, corporate philosophy, history and its products and services.

Additional information can be garnered from our public library, various financial directories, magazines and newspapers. Government departments responsible for industry and employment can also provide valuable data on the current employment health of the industry. We can also learn about salary ranges for specific professions and the employment conditions and projections about our particular profession.

Other Job Questions and Conditions to Consider

  • Where is the job located? If we have to relocate we will need to know about relocation expenses, and how the cost of living will impact our salary. If we have a family, we will need to know about schools, housing, and jobs available for the spouse if they are not able to arrange a transfer.
  • We will need to know whether the company’s practices conform to our own beliefs and interests.
  • What sort of impact will the size of the organisation have on us? Will there be further and significant career opportunities available?
  • What sort of training will the company provide for us, such as on- the- job training? Will we be able to access other internal and external courses, and will there be any reimbursement?
  • Does the job they are offering match and meet the skills we are going to be bringing to the position?
  • What are the long- term prospects of the organisation in relation to the industry?
  • Finally, what is salary range is being offered? When will salary reviews take place? We will also need to know what benefits the offer will entail, such as stock options, commissions, signing bonus, health insurance, overtime, vacation, pension plan, and travel expenses, and how much of the cost of this benefits package will we will have to bear.

A Quick Brief About Salary Guidelines

Before we even think about salary negotiation, it is vital that we know which of the three kinds of salary categories the organization utilizes:

  • Pay Grade System – This means the organisation has a specific salary range that is already pre-established. We need to know this, as most organisations that use this system will only consider negotiations that fall within this specified range.
  • The Fixed Offer – Some organisations perform an in-depth research of the job market and present the offer as a ‘take it or leave it’ presentation.
  • Negotiations – This is the rarest system available. They have some latitude to play with regarding the salary, and here we avail ourselves to some definite negotiating.

Meeting and Negotiating With the Prospective Employer

There are several things we have to consider when negotiating a job offer:

  1. Listen, don’t speak. The company will likely make an offer that includes a salary package. The company making the offer is the convention. We need to listen to their offer. If we offer or reveal too much information about our bottom line we will limit our success. The organisation will usually try to get us to state what we want in order to accept the position, as this information gives them the opportunity to put together the minimum package they need to offer. So gather all the information you can before considering their offer and making your counter offer. If you expect their offer to be relatively low, and you are confident of your position, then by all means discuss your salary aspiration before they mention their offer.
  2. Remember the principle of fairness. Employers will negotiate within a certain range based upon their budget and according to their human resource policy guidelines. We should try to reciprocate this principle by being reasonable in our demands and most importantly by having done our homework to justify the reasons for our position.
  3. Be realistic – Our negotiating strength has to be based on the reality of the situation and on supply and demand. If we possess skills that are in great demand, our negotiating position will be increased, but if there is a surplus of qualified potential employees who are also in the running for this position, we may have to moderate our own negotiating power.
  4. Negotiation is not about winning – We must always remember to stay tuned to our career goals and not try to 'put one over' a prospective employer, as this will likely alienate rather than win them over.
  5. Let yourself be creative – Sit back and look over the entire package. Is it possible for us to consider trade-offs to enhance the value of the package in relation to our relative needs?
  6. Know when to stop negotiating – It is important that we do not succumb to greed. The point at which to stop is when we realize that we have obtained our desired objectives, and to always be think of both sides of the table. If we continue to press hard we run the risk of jeopardizing what would otherwise be a great deal.
  7. Always clarify the job offer – Specifically, we always want to verify what has been offered, including:
    1. Salary and benefit package
    2. Location
    3. Starting date
    4. Relocation and travel reimbursement
    5. Commissions and signing bonus
    6. The date to receive our reply
  8. Don’t accept the offer immediately – We must give ourselves some time to absorb the information. However, discuss a date when they want or need to hear from us, and whether it should be done by phone or in person. Rather than accept an arbitrary date, ask why they need your answer by the date they have given.
  9. Negotiable items – The following items can be considered negotiable:
    1. Salary – Again, this will likely be within certain limits and salary ranges. The company salary guidelines in conjunction with our market research should give us an adequate idea of our latitude in this area.
    2. Reporting date and location – This again may be variable. Consider the employer’s needs in relation to our own, but be reasonable and realistic. We may also have the option of choosing one city or geographical area over another and even have the option of picking a preferred location.
    3. Job Appraisals – Some employers may offer bonuses for service performed. We may possibly be able to negotiate when the first evaluation would take place, such as sooner rather than later.
    4. Signing bonuses and relocation expense reimbursement – Most organisations will reimburse us for relocating. This could include travel, meals and temporary accommodation, mortgage assistance or moving expenses. Some or all of these aspects may be negotiable, but may also be limited according to a strictly enforced company policy. Signing bonuses may also be negotiated within reason.
  10. Determine your conditions – Before we make contact with the company to discuss their offer we must ensure we have evaluated the offer in relation to our needs and objectives. As we devise a negotiation strategy, the most important point to remember is to allow flexibility. If they won’t agree to our salary demands, perhaps we could ask for a signing bonus instead.
  11. Make a decision when the organisation makes its final offer – When we have been advised that the organisation has made its final offer we should usually consider the negotiation over. Now we must be prepared to give them a decision and commit fully to that decision. If we decline an offer it is sensible to send the company a letter thanking them for their offer, and to do so gracefully. The reason is that they may get in touch with us again in the future, so we don’t want to burn any bridges.
  12. Get it in writing – It is always wise to ask the prospective employer to confirm our agreed upon employment terms in writing. Be smart and have your employment terms documented for future reference in case something goes awry.

Summary

Remember, always prepare, prepare, prepare! Being knowledgeable about a prospective employer will enable us to negotiate and will impress them in the process. We must be realistic and reasonable when we negotiate and always be professional to enhance our success.

General useful references:

www.leighthompson.com/books/MindandHeart_2e/appendix_4.htm

www.bls.gov/oco/oco20046.htm

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