So you've received a job offer and compensation package for a position you want. Fantastic! Now you're faced with an opportunity to negotiate the salary and benefits that have been offered to you. While it comes naturally for some, many people dread the process of salary negotiation when they receive a job offer.
Should you ask for a salary increase, or accept what you've been offered? What's the best way to enter a salary negotiation process, and what are some things you can do to ensure it goes smoothly when you negotiate salary? There are many questions to consider when it comes to responding to a job offer, let's take a look at the process of how to negotiate a salary so that you can accept an offer confidently, knowing that both you and your new employer are happy with the compensation agreement.
Is negotiating salary bad?
Salary negotiating is not bad. In fact, initial offers are usually made with the assumption that a candidate will attempt to negotiate a better package. The first offer you receive is hardly ever the highest offer the organization is able to make. This is good to keep in mind, because it means that you can assume that an employer has factored in a buffer for negotiation by starting with an offer on the lower end of the salary range.
A candidate's willingness to negotiate salary can also be a sign of confidence and a chance to demonstrate negotiation skills. While salary negotiation is often to be expected and is not inherently bad, there are some rules of thumb to ensure that the salary negotiation process goes smoothly and effectively.
Can salary negotiation backfire?
Salary negation absolutely can backfire, which is why it's so important to prepare well for the process of how to negotiate for salary terms.
Here are the details for our guide. How to: salary negotiation
Don't negotiate salary until you have a firm offer. One mistake that job candidates make is attempting to negotiate salary prior to receiving a job offer. The best time to begin negotiating a salary package is after a company has extended an offer of employment, but before accepting the offer. Attempting to negotiate any earlier than that can backfire and lower your chances of receiving an offer at all.
Timing also matters when it comes to how responsive you are during the negotiation process. Leaving it too long between communications shows a lack of enthusiasm and interest. A hiring manager is much more likely to advocate for a candidate who is engaged and sticks to deadlines.
Your tone can convey a lot to an employer. Aim to find a balance between being confident, without being arrogant. Being argumentative, or making a counter-offer that dramatically exceeds the salary offered is not going to work in your favor, and can give the hiring manager the impression that you're ego-driven, overly aggressive, or rude.
Conversely, it's also important not to be too agreeable. It's okay to stand your ground and ask for more, provided you can back it up with research and justification. If the employer agrees to make an increase, thank them for their willingness to compromise, but don't gush. Being overly grateful can be just as off-putting and can give the impression that you bluffed your way through the process. How to: negotiation, salary, and how you offer value should all be considered very carefully.
The bottom line is, being able to show that your counter-offer is based on research and that you've made an informed judgment on what is a fair and appropriate salary is crucial. Simply stating that you want more won't necessarily cut it. Similarly, asking for more but not providing a figure is not going to help your case.
What should I say in salary negotiation?
Develop a range of responses and phrases you might use to formulate your negotiation strategy and practice them in preparation.
"Thank you for the offer"
The first step should always be to thank the hiring manager for the offer of employment. You've been selected out of a list of candidates, and it's appropriate to express your gratitude.
You can also indicate your enthusiasm and general intent to accept by saying something like "I'm excited about this opportunity."
"Is this figure flexible?"
It can be helpful to reiterate the base salary offer for compensation you received, to confirm that you're aware of what's been offered to you, and then ask if that number is flexible. This politely indicates that you wish to enter a negotiation.
"Based on my research..."
Put forward your informed view of what's appropriate for the role, factoring in job title, your experience, qualifications, and the location of the job. Providing you've done your homework, you should be able to indicate an appropriate salary range above what you've been offered.
Phrases to follow up with could include:
- For someone with my experience, a salary of ... is more common
- Market standard for compensation in this industry is closer to ...
"I would be more comfortable with..."
Developing the right language around salary negotiations takes a bit of time and reflection on the subtleties and nuances of a slight change in words. By avoiding the use of "I want" or "I need", and opting instead for "I would be more comfortable with", you'll come across as much more collaborative and show you're open to discussions.
"I feel that the value I can bring to the company reflects this salary."
Remember that you're being hired to provide value to the company in return for a salary package. Remind the employer of your unique value proposition by reiterating the skills and experience you will bring to the company.
You can also focus on your experience and skills rather than value.
"If you can offer ... then I'm onboard. "
This is a great way to make a second counter-offer, particularly if you'd like to factor additional benefits into the compensation package.
If, after your first counter-offer, an employer makes a second offer that is closer to your expectations but still not quite what you'd like, you can say something like "If you can offer additional stock options, then I'm on board" for example.
"Do you mind if I take a day to think about it?"
It's entirely appropriate to ask for a day or two to consider the final offer. Asking for a 24 hours to think it over is a professional way to avoid rushing the decision.
Keep it professional
Remember, it's very common for candidates to make a counter-offer once an offer has been extended, so be prepared to do so. Do your research, practice answers and phrases to use, and aim to remain calm and professional throughout the process. Use your unique value to justify your counter offer and avoid discussing personal financial situations or expensive lifestyle needs. The ultimate goal is for you and the employer to reach a compensation package that you're both comfortable with, so keep it professional, and focus on value rather than money. That's our salary negotiation guide, so good luck and keep your head high!