They say that everything is negotiable. I’m sure that we have all heard that expression at one point or another. However, when negotiating a job offer with a new potential employer, there are many subtleties and nuances that one needs to take into consideration. There is a very fine line between making sure you as the candidate/employee get what you want, but also that you don’t upset your future employer by pushing too hard – potentially leaving a sour taste in their mouth.
So you’ve received a job offer! Congratulations! The position is something you are excited about, the company is an organization you believe in, you enjoyed meeting with everybody who you spoke with through the interview process. All systems seem to be go, until you determine that the salary being offered is a few thousand dollars less then what you had been anticipating. The question now: where do we go from here? The first question one can ask is always quick and to the point, contact the person who made you the job offer and ask them if there is any room for negotiation in the offer. The answer is either going to be, yes or no. There are also several different areas where a potential employer may be willing to negotiate with you. It could be on the base salary, bonus, sign on bonus, benefits, time off, ability to work remotely a certain amount per week, all of these components of a total compensation package do have value, even if it means that dollars aren’t being added to your take home pay.
Often times, employers will attempt to hire new employees for the “lowest asking price” that the candidate indicated they were willing to accept throughout the interview process. Are they “lowballing” you on purpose? The answer is most likely no, but you have to remember the employer is in business to make money as well, in most cases, and cost control is a crucial component for success with any business. Typically, employers will entertain negotiation that is going to increase the vested interest the new hire would have to stay with the new organization. One of the easiest ways this is facilitated is through a sign on bonus. A sign on bonus is a onetime payment provided to a new hire. The catch is that most sign on bonuses have “clawback” clauses in them where if the employee were to leave the organization prior to a certain amount of time, they are liable to pay back all or part of that sign on bonus. This can work out to be a win-win for both new hire and employer but is something to be aware of, but make sure you “read the fine print” before signing.
Employers of late have been less inclined to negotiate on base salary and more inclined to negotiate with components of a total comp package, like time off or flexible scheduling to work remotely. Nobody knows better than you, what your financial responsibilities are on a monthly basis and what needs to be coming in from an income standpoint to meet those responsibilities. If there is a number you need to be receiving and the employer is not able to get there, it’s best to walk away and protract the negotiation process. If the compensation gap isn’t going to be overcome, then you and the perspective employer are wasting time.
It is also important to remember that negotiation does not and should not be an adversarial process. The organization wants you to join them and you want to be a part of them. Are you likely to get everything you ask for in a negotiation? Honestly, the answer is probably not. However, what you should be shooting for is to meet in the middle at an agreement that works for both you and your new employer. At the end of the day, both you and your employer should be happy with the decision. I would always encourage you to aim high. Ask for more than what you are prepared to accept. It is significantly easier to negotiate down with a perspective employer than it would be to negotiate up. Being flexible, open to compromise will also demonstrate your agility to a new perspective employer, and hopefully help them form a favorable first impression of you.
So what’s the moral of the story here? If I could offer one last piece of advice, it’s simply this: ask for what you want and don’t be afraid to do so. Remember if you don’t ask you certainly won’t get