6 HotTips for Negotiating a Job Offer

Believe it or not, tomorrow marks our last New Tech Job Fair of the year. We officially welcomed fall on Monday (though it feels like it’s been here for several weeks already) and next week we’ll turn the calendar to October.

The holiday season is now open (confirmed by my most recent visit to Costco) and 2020 budget discussions are likely already underway in corporate boardrooms. Seeking to jumpstart 2020 with fresh talent, we look forward to welcoming about 20 employers tonight and connect them with more than 300 job seekers from the New Tech community tomorrow.

Based on past job fair success metrics, participating recruiters end up hiring, on average, two new employees as a result of their attendance. Assuming you’re one of those job fair attendees that receives an offer (or two or three), discussing and negotiating details of the offer letter can be even more stressful than the interview experience itself.

Despite the tight labor market favoring workers, the most recent Zip Recruiter Annual Job Seeker Survey found that just 36 percent of employees negotiated for higher pay the last time they were hired (40 percent of men and 31 percent of women).

To ensure you’re prepared for this final, crucial phase of the job search process, here are six tips to effectively negotiate your compensation package.

  1. First, understand your value. In most instances, you’ll know a job offer is coming based on conversations with the recruiter or hiring manager. If the employer is asking to speak with references or taking the time to conduct a background check, there’s a good chance a job offer is headed your way. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to really understand your market value. Though just one piece of the equation, websites like PayScale and Glassdoor make it much easier for you to understand the value of your skills and experience.
  2. Get the offer in writing. This one should sound like a no-brainer but in the excitement of the new dream job, we may discuss details – no matter how trivial – that don’t always get conveyed to all parties involved in the hiring process. Before committing to an offer verbally, always wait to see the offer letter in writing. This will give you sufficient time to review and validate all expectations of the job along with the specific details of the compensation package. This leads me to my next recommendation.
  3. Be gracious. And responsive. You should first convey your excitement for the offer and appreciation of the opportunity presented. I usually advise that the initial conversation extending an offer is not the time to negotiate. Instead, ask any clarifying questions, if necessary. Again, there’s typically a lot of information being exchange during this conversation – focus on expressing your enthusiasm for receiving an offer. Above all, be sure to let them that know you look forward to making a timely decision after reviewing the offer in writing. And then be sure to follow up accordingly.
  4. Negotiating multiple offers. If you’re weighing multiple offers at the same time, congratulations! You’re in elite company – and in the driver’s seat for negotiations. But don’t let that go to your head. The first instinct might be to pit the offers against each other to see which company comes out on top. But you risk annoying both (or more) prospective employers in this scenario. A rule of thumb for negotiating any job offer is to avoid engaging in multiple negotiating conversations. In other words, don’t up the ante if you’ve already requested a higher salary and the company met your demands.
  5. Haggling, because you just have to “win.” I get it. You want to squeeze as much money as possible out of your offer. We can easily get wrapped up in emotion and view negotiating a job offer in much the same we haggle on the purchase of a car or house. But there also comes a point in time when, if the salary exceeds (or perhaps even meets) your expectations, know when – and what – to negotiate. Again, if you’ve discussed salary expectations earlier in the process, this is not the time to ask for even more than you stated initially. I’ve witnessed this many times and, even if the company ultimately hires you, this practice leaves a bad taste in an employer’s mouth.
  6. Consider other options if salary is non-negotiable. As in the case of the aforementioned example, If the proposed salary aligns with expectations and market value, perhaps consider asking for additional vacation time, a professional development stipend, equity, flexibility to work from home, or some other benefit. On the other hand, if there is not much room to negotiate on salary, other alternatives, such as a signing bonus or advance on the bonus you likely would have received if you worked there for the entire year, are options to explore instead. These alternatives give the company flexibility to maintain their salary offer while still being amenable to negotiating your requests.

Lastly, I wanted to include a few words about declining an employer’s offer. First, it happens more than you might think and for reasons you might never expect. Drafting a polite email or letter declining the offer will go a long way towards preserving a positive relationship with the employer, recruiter, hiring manager and everyone involved in the process. While you don’t need to spell out specific details around your reasons for declining the offer, you should thank them for taking the time to consider your candidacy and reiterate that you appreciate receiving the offer.

Those are a few tips to help you with negotiating your next job offer. If you’d like to share other recommendations based on your experience negotiating a job offer, please leave a comment below. Good luck with your search – I hope you find your next dream job at our job fair tomorrow!

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