Author: Cliff Mintz
One of the trickiest parts of the job seeking process is negotiating an employment offer if one is extended. Generally speaking, there is a lot of anxiety, trepidation and misinformation surrounding the entire job negotiation process. This is because jobseekers, for the most part, spend much of their energy and focus on researching would be employers, resume writing, and preparing for face-to-face interviews. Little or no attention is paid to the art of negotiating an actual job offer. To that point, the following article is intended to demystify the job offer negotiation process.
Perhaps THE MOST important aspect of the job offer negotiation process is starting salaries. While many people tend to downplay its importance, at the end of the day, it is always about money. And, there is no reason why a jobseeker ought not try to get the best possible salary from a prospective employer. Therefore, it is incumbent upon jobseekers to gather as much salary intelligence about a possible position before the interview and after an offer is extended. Websites like Salary.com, Glassdoor.com and PayScale.com, which list salary ranges based on industry and geography, are a great place to start. However, because these are self-reporting websites, a better option may be to talk with employees working at the company that extended the offer or with others who work for its competitors.
Other things to consider besides salaries include healthcare benefits, vacation time, financial benefits, bonus structure and corporate culture. However, most of these benefits are standardized for new entry level employees so there is little to negotiation that can take place surrounding them. This means that salary is perhaps the only place where real negotiation can take place.
Let me give you an example. Your research suggests that a person with your job title at a particular company ought to make between $70,000 to $75,000 per year as a starting salary. Your would-be employer makes you an offer with a starting salary of $70,000. If you think $70,000 is a fair salary—then take the offer. However, you likely may be “leaving money on the table” For this reason, I advise persons who receive an initial job offer to not immediately accept it!
In the above example, I would make a counter offer of $75,000 as a starting salary. Once the company receives and considers the counter offer, several things can happen. First, the company can simply say no to your counteroffer (they will not rescind the original offer as urban legend suggests simply because you are asking for a higher starting salary). Second, the company may agree to the $75,000 as a starting salary. Third, more often than not, the company is likely to counteroffer with a starting salary of $72,000 or there about. This is because companies spend a lot of time, effort and money to get to the point to extend an offer to the “right fit” candidate. The prospect of starting the job search process all over again or settling for the “second best” candidate is usually not a viable option for most employers. Put simply, the company wants you and will in good faith negotiate a deal to induce you to join them.
Finally, negotiating a job offer as a jobseeker can be very emotional and stressful. Perhaps the best way to avoid the stress is to work with a professional recruiter during your job search. If you work with a recruiter, he/she not you, will negotiate the offer if one is extended.