You have a job offer but you don’t like the proposed salary. Good. Most employers expect that you will try to negotiate. Before you do, gather the facts by researching online to figure out typical salaries for that type of job in that geographic area, as well as your market value based on number of years and level of experience.
You must be prepared because you do not want to come back more than a few times with a counterproposal. If you do, you could be viewed as a challenging person before you even start and risk losing the offer. As you consider your negotiation strategy, remember that there is more than salary that can be discussed. Determine what is most important to you out of the terms below and decide how to tackle what matters to you most efficiently and effectively.
Salary is the most common negotiation piece. If this is your sticking point, determine your value as the employer would see it, not as you do. Conduct research to figure out a salary range in the industry at your level and location. There are a number of great tools for this; the ClearanceJobs Salary Calculator allows you to adjust for your clearance level, location, and industry to give you an accurate and tailored estimate. The hard truth is that they are trying to save their company money, so you need strong evidence of why they should pay you more when there may be other candidates willing to accept the offer as is. Giving a range such as “in the $80s” can be effective instead of limiting you to a number in a range like “$85-90K,” in which case they are likely to offer the lower number.
Many companies prefer to pay a signing bonus rather than agree to a higher salary. As when you negotiate a higher salary, do your research. Can you find through research or do you have evidence of the employer or others in the same industry paying signing bonuses? If so, look at those ranges and identify a figure that would make you feel comfortable with the offer overall. In order to persuade them, explain what your acceptance of the offer means in terms of their needs and interests.
If time off is more important to you than salary, use this as your main negotiation point. Emphasize your high level of productivity and the importance of maintaining that, which translates to time off to recuperate and reinvigorate. Human resources may tell you that two weeks is standard practice and nothing more can be done. However, you can ask to discuss it with your future manager.
You may be unhappy with the title that you’ve been offered. If that’s the case, talk to the employer about holding an initial six-month performance review instead of waiting the standard one year. You should be prepared to explain why you feel you’ll be operating at the next level by that time and that you’ll want to discuss your contributions with your boss sooner rather than later. Make it clear that this will serve to help you enhance your performance on the job. Once again, they care about what they get out of it, rather than what’s in it for you.
This is an item that an employer typically makes clear during the interview process, so you may be negotiating it sooner. Not all companies will offer to reimburse relocation costs, but many will. If this takes the greatest weight off your mind in accepting a job, ask for how much you will need based on research-backed calculations.
Your work schedule can be the toughest negotiation point because the employer doesn’t know you or the worth of your work – yet. You are probably in a better position to negotiate on this if you’ve come highly recommended or sought out. However, it’s still worth a try once you’ve been offered a job if you are keen to work an alternative schedule. Before you propose a modified work schedule, make sure you are very clear with the employer about what you will do in situations where there is a meeting, significant deadline, or business travel during unscheduled work time.
Negotiating is not easy, but it’s a skill for which you should be prepared. Inevitably you will have to do it at some point in your career. Salary is only one piece of the job offer puzzle, and remember that most everything is negotiable. It’s up to you to figure out what matters the most to you personally and present accurate and persuasive evidence to convince the employer of how your proposal benefits them, which translates to keeping you on board for years to come.