Artwork by: Sasha Bogatov
If you get offered the job, that’s good news, but maybe it’s not exactly perfect. You might be wondering if you could ask for more and what you could negotiate. The short answer is that it’s all negotiable.
Every new job is an opportunity to negotiate base salary, bonuses, benefits and other incentives that increase job satisfaction and provide financial security.
Here are some pointers to help you evaluate the quality of the offer and maximize what you get out of the employment deal.
When you’ve been given a tentative offer, resist the temptation to give an immediate “yes” or “no” over the phone and ask for the offer in writing along with a benefits overview.
Take time to review the offer and follow up with your answer. Go over your finances and personal obligations to make sure the offer works for you. Consider additional factors like commute time or career growth opportunity and get a second opinion by reviewing the offer with a friend, mentor or family member.
Usually, companies will give you a few days to consider, but once a decision date has been agreed to, be sure to give your decision by that date. A decision period can range anywhere from two days to two weeks.
If a company offers a very quick decision period, they may have other potential second-choice candidates waiting to swoop in, but they may also just be using this as a tactic to get you to take the first offer, so consider the situation carefully.
Some companies may also allow you to come into the office and shadow a co-worker for a day to determine if you’re truly interested. If this is something you’d like to do, ask if it’s a possibility.
Some things to consider when evaluating an offer:
Is the job description clear? Do you fully understand your scope of work? What about who you’ll be working with/reporting to? What about your potential for advancement? If there’s something you don’t understand, keep asking questions until you do
Are the benefits clear? Do you understand how much of your health insurance will come from your paycheck? Do you understand how sick days/PTO is accrued? Are there other options like telecommuting that haven’t been discussed
Is the offer contingent on anything? Are there still reference checks, drug tests, background checks and so on between you and your first day?
Do you want this job? Make sure you’re clear on this. There are many valid reasons to decline an offer and you want to have some idea of where this job fits in your long-term goals
To begin negotiations, you need to understand the type of salary you can reasonably expect based on your experience, industry, education and location, but you also need to know what you can accept based on your financial situation.
Don’t assume the first offer is fixed. Even if the interviewer tells you it is, that’s rarely true
Begin the negotiation with your more common requests which will be seen as more reasonable and then work up to your bigger conditions
Remember that you’re ultimately on the same side. Negotiations should never become emotional or hostile. Use your value, skills, experience and education to negotiate, not your need for the job
Demonstrate how the things you’re asking for will make you a better employee. This is obvious for things like training and development, but less clear when asking for a salary. “I don’t want to think about money while I’m at work” is a good opener
If you can’t get anywhere on salary, ask for a review in six months to evaluate your performance and value
If you do ultimately say “no”, leave the door open to negotiation. However, do not expect negotiation to go on beyond this point. When you say "no," be ready to lose the job forever.
When you reach an agreement, get it in writing
Raymond Lee has over 25 years of human resource, outplacement, and career coaching experience. He is also an industrial/organizational psychologist and a certified retirement coach. Raymond has contributed to SHRM, ATD, and other publications on the topics of the future of work, employee experience and offboarding, ageism and bias in the workplace, and career fulfillment.