You’ve got a job offer. Mini-wave in celebration of you! Except don’t write your “I quit” email to your current boss just yet. There’s still another step before your new job is official: the salary negotiation.
In your offer letter (or email, or phone call), there was likely a salary amount in there somewhere. Remember what we usually tell you about the interview process? That you should hold off on discussing money and benefits until later in the process? Well, my friend, that time is now. Here are some tips you can use to maximize that process, and try to improve upon an initial offer.
1. Be realistic.
Know the market rate for your position. If you didn’t do this before your interview, do it now (thanks, Google!). You can check sites like Payscale.com and Salary.com to see what information is out there for people in your new position, at your new company, and/or at other companies. This will help you form a baseline of what you can reasonably expect. You can try for higher, but if you do that, make sure it’s on the same scale. Sure, you can reach for the stars, but if you demand $500K and a signing bonus Ferrari for a job that averages $60K and may offer an Uber discount, well…you will be laughed at (at best), or have your offer rescinded (at worst).
2. It’s okay to haggle…
These days, employers expect there to be a bit of negotiation. Sure, some people are so thankful for the job offer that they sign on the dotted line, no questions asked. However, it’s also common for employees to try for a higher salary. It’s not personal; the employer understands that you’re merely trying to get the best possible outcome for yourself. Once you receive the initial offer, respond graciously with a thank you, and make sure you’re clear that you’d like some time to consider your pay and benefits.
3…but be nice.
This is a dialogue with your new employer, not an adversary. You want the tone to be as pleasant and mutually beneficial as possible because soon you will have a personnel file with them. Be polite in all of your communication with them—and don’t let them forget how high a priority you put on being a good fit with their team.
4. Don’t forget benefits.
Salary may be the most important part of a new job offer/acceptance, but it’s not the only important thing. Take a good look at the benefits package that comes along with the salary. It can be an important fallback negotiation if they really won’t wiggle much on the salary itself. Can you get additional vacation/personal days? Can you add flexible work-from-home time? The negotiation should be considered a package negotiation, with less tangible benefits included in the bottom line as well.
5. Have your talking points ready to go.
Salary negotiation may follow quickly after the job offer. Once it starts, you don’t want to drag your feet too much. You should have all of your information ready to go so that you can keep the back-and-forth going over the next few days.
Chances are, you’re like the rest of us and not an elite athlete whose contract saga can play out for months at a time with the team’s front office. It’s in your interest—and the company’s—to resolve this as quickly as possible to get you started in your new role. To help keep things moving, make sure you have your selling points (Experience! Market rates for this position! Millions of dollars in sales for your last company!) all lined up in your head (or even better, in your notebook) so that you can respond quickly and effectively.
6. Know when to fold ‘em.
There may be a point in the negotiation where the offered salary just won’t work for you, and the company is no longer willing to go higher. You should know ahead of time what your “no go” point is, and decide whether you still want to move forward with the job at that less-than-ideal offer. If you don’t, then it’s okay to walk away from the offer and go back into the job search process. If you decide to go ahead and accept, at least you know that you’ve done everything you can do to scoop up any money left on the table.
Throughout the process, even if you’re not getting the ideal salary you have in your head, don’t get discouraged. You’ll have opportunities later to negotiate for raises. In the meantime, go out there, be confident, and grab those bucks!