So you finally made it past the hard part of the job hunting process and landed the coveted offer. With the stress behind you, you're ready to secure the bag, sign on the dotted line, and pop the bubbly ASAP. Why wait?
Not so fast.
The phrase “know your worth” is more than a self-care mantra in the name of leaving toxic relationships. When it comes to your coins, knowing your worth is a major key to successful negotiation. As a hiring manager who works with hundreds of new hires annually, I routinely take part in the negotiation process first hand and know it’s possible to get a few extra perks without jeopardizing your job offer.
Know your industry
Do some research on your job industry and the company to get an idea of the salary range for people in your region who share your job title. Sites like Glassdoor will give you a peek into a company’s salary structure. If you are caught off guard by a salary lower than what you expected, it’s important to have benchmarks for comparison.
Establish specific salary anchors
In negotiations, your initial position is your anchor, so make it strong. According to Inc.com, it’s best to use a range instead of stating one specific target salary to show your flexibility. Bookending the range with unusually specific numbers will give you a stronger anchor around which negotiations will revolve. For example, using the number $81,500 instead of $80,000 will give the appearance that you’ve done your research before setting your expectations.
Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation suggests phrasing your salary demand as a statement. Instead of bluntly saying “I’m expecting $75,000 annually” try an alternative such as “I understand that individuals in this position make between $75,500 - $82,500, but please correct me if I’m in error”. This shows that you are open to discussion, but still centers the conversation around a higher salary expectation.
Don't forget the "why"
Prepare points justifying why you merit a higher salary or additional benefits. If you can't justify your request, your prospective employer has little incentive to provide it. Use quantitative data to illustrate your points. Concrete examples, as well as awards, accomplishments or certifications relevant to your position, are gold. I'm much more inclined to meet the demands of a candidate who counteroffers with a solid argument versus a candidate who doesn't.
Keep it 100
A novice hiring manager might be easily finessed, but many can spot deception. When faced with a dishonest candidate, I am more likely to pump the brakes on negotiation. Avoid saying that you have other offers on the table when you don’t, or the hiring manager may call your bluff. Also, don’t claim that you made a significantly higher salary at your previous job than you did. Many employers conduct employment verifications during the hiring process. A common verification question I receive is “What was the employee’s salary?”. If your former employer reveals your true salary is much lower than what you claimed, you can lose your leverage and compromise your trustworthiness.
Play hard to get...but not too hard
Employers don’t want to waste time on a candidate who seems unlikely to accept their offer. If you appear too elusive or difficult, the employer may move onto a candidate who is more attainable. Harvard Business Review writes, “If you’re planning to mention all the options you have as leverage, you should balance that by saying why—or under what conditions—you would be happy to forgo those options and accept an offer." Play too hard to get and the employer may redirect their energies elsewhere.
Master the art of timing
Even if the job offer looks perfect, ask for at least 24 to 48 hours to deliberate. Always give a specified date on which the employer will hear back from you. Business Insider recommends acknowledging the offer with gratitude as soon as possible, then taking a few days to return your final decision. During this time, the initial rush of excitement will wear off allowing you to think clearly and negotiate. Additionally, waiting to accept the offer will prevent you from looking desperate.
Assume you have competition
Eight out of 10 times, I have a backup candidate lined up if my first choice becomes too demanding. If an employer sends you a job offer quickly it doesn’t mean you’re the only viable candidate. Although you can inquire about your competition, some hiring managers may dodge the question, effectively leaving you in the dark. We are negotiators too, after all. Safely assume that you’re not the only option and act accordingly.
Money isn't everything
If employers can’t be flexible with your salary, they may be able to offer other perks like remote working, tuition reimbursement, or transportation shuttles to ease your commute. Salary.com names several lesser considered benefits including daycare reimbursement, your title, and housing subsidy. Think about this when comparing multiple job offers. For example, one employer might offer a very high salary and little else while another company offers an average salary, but boasts generous paid time off and flexible hours.
State all of your demands in your initial counteroffer instead of "breadcrumbing" with a series of requests. As a hiring manager, this is a pet peeve. Breadcrumbing exacerbates the other party, and makes your demands seem arbitrary and poorly thought out. However, when countering be sure to make your most important demands obvious. If something is non-negotiable, make it clear. Otherwise, your hiring manager or new boss might acquiesce to the requests that are easiest to fulfill regardless of their importance to you.
If at first you don't succeed, try again later
Sometimes negotiations don’t go your way because you don’t have tenure with the employer. Hope isn’t lost. Once you establish trust with your employer, you may have the leverage you need for successful negotiation. An employer who initially resists remote working perks may have a change of heart after witnessing your infallible work ethic firsthand. This is precisely how I went from commuting daily to working 100% remotely. Also, your employer’s situation can change due to restructuring or financial windfalls. If your employer is unable to meet your requests when you’re first hired, they may be in a different position after a merger or acquisition.
You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. According to Monster.com, dropping the entitlement during the negotiation process is going to get you much further than being rude or abrasive. The employer is not your enemy, so always avoid taking an abrasive approach. The last thing you want is for word of your bad behavior to reach your new superiors.
Be mindful of limitations
Employers have limitations on what they can offer, particularly if they’re a small company. They may not be able to meet your demands even if they think you’re worth it. To keep you happy they may instead go above and beyond in other ways that aren’t reflected in the job offer. If your employer has an amazing workplace culture, that’s an indication that they value their team members even if their benefit package isn’t robust. Lastly, if they can’t provide the perks or salary you desire, you have the choice to gracefully decline without souring your connection.