The Art of Negotiation

The hiring process is full of potentially awkward moments, but salary negotiations seem to cause the most dread and anxiety. Often, money is a taboo subject to talk about, and when you throw in talking about money and your professional value it’s enough to make anyone feel intimidated. But, being prepared makes a huge difference and helps you to feel more confident in communicating what you need and want.

Here are 5 key points to negotiating a job offer:

  1. When you do get a job offer – exciting! – you don’t need to accept on the spot. Even if you know without a doubt that you will take the job, make sure you’re taking a few days to really think it over. If you need more details on specifics (think benefits package, etc.), make sure to ask to speak to someone as soon as possible about that. A recruiter (or whomever is offering the job), may want an answer right away, but accepting a job offer is a big deal, so give yourself time to consider what you need.

  2. Speaking of taking time, make sure you are also respecting the time and energy of the person offering. Be timely with your response times, and any counter offers. The recruiter or hiring manager is very excited to offer you the job, and they’re also eager to wrap up the hiring process and get you on board! Before even getting to the offer stage, you should have a good idea of what you need and want, and what you won’t accept. This makes your decision on an offer that much easier and reduces that back and forth that could end up frustrating a recruiter or hiring manager.

  3. Know that you can negotiate more than salary! If they cannot move on salary (often time due to budgetary constraints), you can negotiate a number of other things. Some other benefits you can negotiate for include: vacation/sick/PTO time (who couldn’t use more time off?), a signing or hiring bonus, relocation benefits, and even job titles.

    At the end of the day, you have an offer on the table, and this company is excited for you to be in the role. They may be very willing to give you more of other benefits, even if they can’t meet you on salary.

  4. When you are in negotiations, especially with salary, your counter offers need to be backed up with reasonable expectations as to why you are asking for what you’re asking. You know your worth, and you were made an offer because the company sees your professional value, but that should not be the only reason you are asking for an increase in salary. Things to consider as evidence:
    • Industry expectations for pay scale. Sites like glassdoor.com, payscale.com (and others) are helpful in determining standard industry pay for certain roles.
    • Location and cost of living expenses
    • Your skills and experience level, and where it falls within the expectations of the role. For example, if they are asking for 2-5 years of experience, and you bring more than that with additional skills, it could be negotiating power.

  5. Finally, remember that this is not the final stop for you! Too often, especially in a competitive job market, people start the search process with a scarcity mindset, meaning they see their ability to find a new position as very limited. Many people believe they should be grateful for the mere possibility of just getting an offer. Going into the offer stage with this mindset will have you believing you need to accept whatever you are given. The hiring process is a two-way street – you are also assessing the company to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

Before the interviews, and especially a final interview, take some time to really consider what would really make you happy. This includes job responsibilities, growth opportunities, salary, working environment, and non-salary compensation factors, such as flex hours and vacation or paid time off. You’ll be much more confident in negotiations!

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