After a few months of prospecting jobs, submitting applications and interviewing, you finally get a job offer. Congratulations! However, before you celebrate, now comes the hard part, the compensation negotiation. If you’re serious about accepting the offer, but feel you deserve a better package, the negotiation process can be stressful and nerve-wracking. Some common concerns amongst job seekers include: coming across as too aggressive, greedy, or unsure of yourself.
To mitigate these anxieties and to go into the negotiation process with confidence, keep the following tips in mind from Katie Niekrash, Senior Managing Director at The Execu|Search Group:
Timing is of the essence
One of the most important things to know about the negotiation process is that your timing is critical—negotiate too early in the interview process and you may send the wrong message to your potential employer, but negotiate too late and you risk selling yourself short. So, how do you know when to start? A general rule of thumb is to wait until an offer is physically or verbally extended to you, which is usually towards the end of the interview process. Remember, that during the early stages of the process, the employer is still evaluating whether or not you’re a fit and is not thinking about what your offer should be. Since you never want to be the 1st person to bring it up, towards the end of the process, when an offer is made is when you will be better positioned to address any matters about the offer thoroughly.
You never want to be dishonest about your current or most recent salary in the hopes of receiving a better offer. Employers have the ability to verify this, and if they discover that you are lying, it can cost you the job. As a result, don’t try to inflate your current salary as leverage in the negotiation.
Give a range, not an exact number
When an employer asks about your salary expectations, you should avoid giving an exact number and should try to keep the answer fairly broad and open. For example, if you’re looking for an increase in salary, asking for a specific number that is too high (when you would have been okay with less) might rule you out if they have candidates who would accept less. On the other hand, if your number is too low, you can pigeon-hole yourself into taking any lower offer, without even knowing if the employer wanted to offer more. Therefore, if you want to avoid these outcomes, give a range that is competitive within today’s market.
Remember, money isn’t everything
When most candidates think about negotiating a job offer, some only think about the salary that is presented to them. However, you should also think about the whole package, rather than just the number. For instance, if you are offered a lower salary than expected, but your medical benefits or stock options are far above industry average, in the end, this could be a great offer. Other parts of the offer to consider include: bonuses, health/medical benefits, stock options, growth potential, tuition reimbursement, vacation, etc.
Only negotiate if you want the job and can justify the demand
To ensure you are respectful of everyone’s time, only negotiate if you are serious about taking the position. Don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiation, and also be able to fully explain why you deserve more. In the same respect, make it clear throughout the process that they can get you. Though it’s okay to bring up another competitive offer (if it’s real), if you make it seem like you’re considering many different offers, this could make the employer less willing to negotiate because in the end they want to be convinced that you will actually take the job.
Maintain your likability
Finally, no one likes to negotiate with an arrogant person or someone who is unwilling to budge on their demands. To avoid being this type of a candidate, you must try to be likeable throughout the entire negotiation process. To do this, we suggest trying to find a balance between being firm in your demands, yet respectful to the company’s needs. As a result, when you begin to negotiate, your initial reaction should be to thank your interviewer for a chance to join their company. Then, you should politely begin to explain why you believe your value is worth more. Finally, be open to hearing their feedback—not only one solution exists when you negotiate an offer.