You did it! After countless applications, interviews, skills tests and references you finally have a job offer in hand. Now what?
Step one: Take a minute to celebrate. You worked hard to get here. Step two: Read over the contract and decide which elements you may want to negotiate before signing on the dotted line. Step three: Read our tips below for a successful negotiation.
Often, when we think of negotiation, salary is the first thing that comes to mind. But there are other elements of the job offer you can negotiate—from paid time off to a work-from-home equipment budget and more. Keep in mind, the elements you can negotiate vary according to the industry. For example, a charity or nonprofit may have a limited budget for salaries, but they might be able to accommodate flexible hours or remote work arrangements.
Pro tip: When you’re planning to negotiate, think about the job offer in terms of the total rewards package—salary, benefits, vacation time, professional development opportunities, flexibility and more.
Get comfortable with your ask
For many people, particularly women, negotiating can often feel intimidating, especially when it comes to money. According to Glassdoor Economic Research, 32% of women did not try to negotiate salary, mainly due to the fear of being denied or losing their job, while other studies found that men initiate negotiations four times as often as women. Reports also suggest income loss of more than $500,000 by age 60 for women who don’t negotiate a first salary.
Regardless of whether you’re negotiating salary, benefits or flexibility, don’t let your nerves stop you. Follow these steps to prepare yourself before sitting down for the discussion:
- Make a plan. Be sure to know what you are asking for (compensation, benefits, hours, flexibility, vacation, location etc.) when you go into the conversation.
- Do your research. If you’re negotiating salary, assess your ask against industry standards to ensure what you’re looking for is comparable. Then, review the company policies to get a feel for what their standard would be—they may even have their salary bands listed publicly. Market and company data are important tools to help ensure the negotiation is fair for everyone.
- Be flexible. And be open to counter-offers. With an open discussion, you’ll be able to reach an agreement that works for everyone.
Pro tip: The more prepared you are, the more thoughtful the conversation will be and the more comfortable you’ll feel making your ask.
Tips for a successful negotiation
- Language matters. Be clear and confident when making your case. Avoid coming across as negative, entitled, or accusatory. For example, don’t start with a complaint like, “My rent is expensive, and my current employer doesn’t pay me enough.” Positive language is powerful. Try something like this instead, “I’ve continuously exceeded my targets, and one of my top accomplishments is X. I’ve taken on new responsibilities as well, including X and X. For these reasons, I’m seeking compensation of [PROVIDE A 10K RANGE] that aligns with what other top performers in this industry are earning.”
- Make your case. Ideally, there will be a mutual benefit that comes from the negotiation. Be sure to frame your ask in a way that demonstrates how it will help the company. For example, perhaps more vacation time will enhance your productivity. Think about your ask from the perspective of the workplace, too.
- Think beyond salary. Be flexible and consider what else you can negotiate. Perhaps they can’t offer you the exact compensation you asked for, but they might have an alternative—whether it’s increased flexibility or additional paid time off—that can be equally interesting.
- Stay professional. Regardless of the initial response you receive, it’s important to remember that this is a professional conversation. Be open and actively listen to what the person you’re negotiating with is saying. Participate in the conversation and see if you can reach an outcome that will benefit everyone.
- Find the right time. The best time to negotiate is prior to starting a new position. You want to feel good about your compensation level for the role you’re accepting. After you’ve been in the role for a while, you may want to renegotiate. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Bring up compensation when you can make a good case for it. If you’ve been given added responsibilities or are a top performer among others who are in a similar seat, it will be easier to make a strong case for a raise.
• Annual performance reviews often provide a natural occasion to discuss your salary with your manager and make the case for a potential increase.
• Avoid negotiating during the first three months in your role when you’re still learning, getting your footing and working to understand the role itself. Give yourself more time to build a strong foundation of wins to support your ask.
• If you’re going on parental leave, it’s still possible to negotiate but be sure you can speak to your successes to help make your case.
- For more tips on asking for a raise, read this blog.
Preparing ahead of time and following the steps outlined above will help reduce the risk of tensions. Remember, if an organization has made you an offer, they want you to join their team! If the alternative to negotiating is leaving for another opportunity, it’s worth it for all parties to have a conversation about the total rewards package.
Template: Start the negotiation conversation
Ready to negotiate with your future employer? Use the template below to get started.
“Hello <Hiring Manager’s Name>,
Thank you again for the opportunity to join your team as [POSITION NAME]. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to be part of such an innovative organization. After reviewing the offer, I’d like to meet to discuss the compensation for this role and a few other details before I sign. Given my experience, accomplishments, and the market salary rate, I’m targeting XX-XX for this role. I’d also like to learn more about your organization’s flexible work arrangements. I’m eager to accept the offer and am available to meet [PROVIDE 3 TIME OPTIONS] to discuss this further.
I look forward to meeting with you and joining the team!