You just received a job offer and it looks pretty good. Is it good enough? Should you negotiate? Can you negotiate? What should you negotiate and how should you go about it? All of these are great questions. Here are a few points to consider:
- Timing is everything. Start setting expectations early in the interviewing process for what you will and won’t accept if you are offered the position. This alleviates the risk of losing the offer completely when you ask for something they are not prepared to offer.
- Consider the size of the company you are negotiating with. Large companies are not as likely to negotiate the terms of an employment offer because they have to maintain consistent practices across all departments to avoid risks for grievance. Small companies that have only a few or one decision maker may be willing to negotiate with you.
- Understand what is negotiable. The general rule here is that money related items can be negotiated within reason. Every position from an entry level support staff member to an executive role will typically have a salary range that they are prepared to offer for an opening. Salary can typically be negotiated within that range. Things like sign on bonus, stock options, and other money related perks are often negotiated as well. In fact, these might be a better item to attempt to negotiate if you have received an offer at the top of their range.
- Understand what is not likely to be negotiated. Vacation time and PTO are not going to be something you can negotiate in most situations. This is because paid time off is dictated by policy. It is usually calculated based on the number of hours their employees work and there is not a lot of room for flexibility on this. Vacation time earned with a previous employer is paid out when you terminate employment. Tell the new employer if you already have time off scheduled. Sometimes the company will agree to let this time off be taken unpaid if arrangements are made in advance.
- Be realistic. Many companies just are not willing to negotiate job offers. Either you can accept what they have offered or you can’t. This happens when they know they have,or can have, more than one viable candidate for the position, or when they have been as generous as they can be within their budget.
Negotiation is not personal. Don’t assume you can’t take an offer that is a little lower than you expected (but doable) or that every offer needs to be negotiated. The question is, “Will accepting this offer be a positive move for your career?” Consider why you looked at pursuing the position in the first place. It is not always about the money after all. If taking this position provides a better work environment, better hours, more flexibility, or whatever brought you to your job search in the first place, you should strongly consider if you really need to negotiate. Maybe you should just take the offer.
Amy McDonald has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Currently the CEO at ResumeSpider.com, she has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST 360°