Introduction to Negotiating

Learning to Negotiate a Job Offer

If you have ever felt at a loss when it comes to negotiating an offer, it helps to remember two key points for success: know your priorities and be aware of your market value.

Review the Items Open for Negotiation list here

Establishing Your Priorities

In order to conduct a successful negotiation, you first need to establish your priorities. Most people tend to focus on base salary, but there are a number of other issues that should be considered and may be negotiable. Clarifying your priorities will help you better choose which items you want to negotiate — and in what order — so take the time to figure out what you want before approaching a new employer. If you have completed CareerLeader, review the results for your Motivators (Work Reward Values) to help you establish negotiating priorities.

Researching Compensation

Preparing and knowing about the market are critical to a successful negotiation, so familiarize yourself with packages and ranges for similar types of roles in the industry. There are a number of salary research tools available including Glassdoor, Paysa, Payscale, Salary Search, Money Magazine Cost of Living Calculator and WolframAlpha. Industry-specific associations and member organizations often include information about compensation ranges. Executive recruiters also can be a great source of general salary information. It's also important to evaluate the amount of leverage that you may have. For example, do you have significant, relevant experience? Are you the company's first choice candidate? Do you have other offers?

Craft Your Strategy

Perhaps the most important point to remember is not to begin negotiating immediately after receiving an offer. First, be sure to indicate that you are pleased and enthusiastic about having received the offer. Second, ask about receiving the offer in writing and set a reasonable time frame for getting back to the company with an answer, and with any questions you might have. Never try to negotiate "on the fly." After all, the company has taken the time to put together the offer, so you will need some time to craft a negotiation strategy.

The company/hiring manager won’t think less of you if you try to increase the size of the package, provided you are well-prepared and thoughtful in your approach. Aggressive demands are likely to turn off the hiring manager and could completely shut down communications. Instead, think about an approach that's professional and reasonable, keeping your focus on the specific value you bring to the organization. The more you can remind the potential employer of the skills and experience you bring with you, the better! And keep in mind when negotiating that you are beginning a new relationship. Balance the value of this long-term relationship against the possibility of a bigger package in the short term.

Remember, too, that not all companies negotiate, and sometimes negotiating might not be necessary or appropriate. You may have received an offer that is at the top of the market and that meets all of your expectations. You are not obligated to negotiate, but bear in mind that if you don’t ask, you won’t know.