When you get an offer for a job you want, you’re tempted to do a dance. But don’t, simply thank the company for the offer and ask for time to review and consider. Most companies understand you need some time to make this decision, after all, this is the first time you have ALL the information and can make an informed decision. And understand this, negotiating your salary is a challenge for everyone and most of us hate it. The biggest reason people don’t like to negotiate? Fear. And we get it, negotiation can be scary. But if you don’t, you could one day be more scared your career isn’t where you want.
Most employers expect to engage in salary negotiations, so they’re expecting you to want something adjusted or increased in the offer. And, often they build in room to negotiate. This most often happens in mid to senior level roles, but there may be flexibility even with entry level positions. And because they expect you to negotiate, you may want to negotiate for something as simple as a few extra days of PTO.
Why is it so important to negotiate your salary?
- It shows employers that you are confident in your ability and your work.
- It shows the employer right from the get-go that you are a valuable employee.
- A higher offer often sets you above others on the team, a very good thing when promotion opportunities arise.
- Every year at annual reviews, your starting salary will be higher if you’ve negotiated a better offer, meaning you’ll reach your desired income level more quickly. Here’s an example: once you’re an employee, companies often limit annual salary increases. So, a 5% annual increase on a $50,000 salary gets you to $52,500 in year two. If your starting salary is $60,000 and you get a 5% increase in year two, your salary is now $63,000. And each year that initial difference makes a bigger and bigger impact in your bank account.
Now you’ve built up the courage, how do you go about negotiating an increased offer?
First, understand…your next company doesn’t care what you think you’re worth. Hiring managers offer you what they think you’re worth or what they’ve got budget for. Consequently, it never hurts to ask. Most often, the only negative response is “we can’t”. And, there’s a strong possibility you may end up with an offer you’re thrilled about. There’s several items to consider before you have a conversation with the company.
What do you consider when negotiating the offer?
Consider the full package – not just the salary.
Before a job offer, the salary can feel like the biggest motivating factor to take a job. But when you get the offer, there are other details to consider. Some of the benefits make a big financial difference to your life, like 401K matches to your retirement account. And, a generous PTO policy, can benefit your work/life balance. Take time to determine what’s most important to you.
Be reasonable in what you ask for.
Ask for one or two things — negotiating for a higher salary, more vacation days, and a change to the leave policy is perhaps too many requests, and might make the company wonder if you’ll be committed to them, or will always be looking for a better offer.
Before you negotiate, be prepared. Have a plan in mind and be ready for questions and discussion.
And it’s a good idea to frame your negotiation in terms of the benefits you can bring the company, how soon you’ll be making an impact or the unique skill set you bring. It’s possible that a company may make their initial offer, and when you counter with “I’d like a different amount,” the company will agree. This happens sometimes, most often when the company knows their initial offer was a little low. When you’re negotiating a counter offer don’t bring up personal topics, such as ‘I’d like to work from home one or two days a week because the commute is so far’. That’s a huge red flag to the company that the drive is already a concern and you haven’t even started. One thing you can’t negotiate is the 401K contribution, as retirement plans have restrictions governing how the plan is implemented.
How do you make the counter offer?
When you’re ready to talk to the company about your counter offer, do it by phone. Putting your requests in an email takes away your ability to hear their initial response or to react to any concerns. It also provides you an opportunity to fully explain your reasoning for the ask.
What if the company won’t increase the salary offered?
If they respond they can’t increase the offer, you should be prepared with a smaller ask, such as a professional development class that will benefit you.
There’s more to a job offer than the salary. Think about what will give you more job satisfaction going forward. Consider negotiating for a better title, an earlier merit review, maybe in six months, more paid time off, a professional development class or an advanced degree. Some individuals are interested in work flexibility and the opportunity to work from home one or two days a week. It doesn’t matter what’s important to you, but do think about it ahead of time and narrow your ‘ask’ to one or two specifics that are most important.
The most important thing to remember is if you’re confident and thoughtful in how you’re asking and what you’re negotiating, you’ll likely have a positive conversation.
Good luck, you’ve got the tools for a great negotiation!