Negotiating your salary and benefits package is key when accepting a new job. It is the stepping stone to making sure working at this job is well worth your time and effort. The first thing anyone does when they get a job offer is… to take it. And while there is a rush of happiness that you just landed the exact job you wanted (hopefully), it is important to take a step back before you accept.
Moreover, if you are a woman, you are four times less likely to negotiate your salary than a man. This is according to Linda Babcock, an Economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University. She wrote an entire book around the subject. If you are a woman reading this, I recommend picking up a copy of her book “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change”. It will set you on the right course for your current and future jobs offers.
If you have just gotten an offer or are expecting it soon, you need some quick suggestions on navigating the negotiation waters. I have used these strategies to coach my ex-employees during their negotiation sessions with their potential new employers. Here are the strategies you should be using too.
1. You Got the Job!
The first call or email you get from your prospective employer will sound engaging and welcoming. It will also sound very luring. Oh and it will also come with a timeline. You will hear “this offer is valid for 24 hours” or “this offer is valid for the rest of the day as we are working on closing our financial books for the month”. These are ridiculous fear inducing controls. Do not let it get to you.
The point to remember is that it is all bs. They are trying to make sure you do not counter-offer so they don’t have to a) pay you more, b) spend time negotiating with you. So remember your worth. And the first thing you will do is respond within a reasonable amount of time. Acknowledge the offer and let them know you are in the process of considering it and will get back to them as soon as you can. Stop there. There is no more to say because they will actually wait.
2. The Intermediary, the Recruiter
In corporate America, you’d usually be negotiating your salary with the recruiter and not the hiring manager. The recruiter’s job is to get you to accept the first offer. The reason for this is so that you can make more money overall for the company. However, they always have a maximum amount they are working with, and will never tell you that. You should go in knowing that that max amount exists and it’s your job to negotiate enough to get close to it.
Recruiters almost always work with the hiring manager on salaries and benefits. This is because at the end of the day, the hiring manager makes the decisions not the recruiter. But they will almost never let you speak with the hiring manager. It is your job to use the recruiter as your middle-man to help negotiate your salary and benefits package with the hiring manager. If you made an impression during the interview, and you got an offer, don’t reduce your self worth now.
3. Ask for What You Want
You should have previously done your research to know your worth. And let’s be fair here do not oversell yourself. As with anything in life, no one is indispensable and neither are you. Come up with a goal in your mind that you are targeting and add on another 15%-20% on top of that amount. If the offer amount is far from the goal, shoot for the 15%, if it is closer to your goal, shoot for the 20% mark.
And to do this you don’t blatantly tell the recruiter you want X amount and nothing less. You tell them you are looking to be closer to X+(15%-20%) and to see if there is any way they can help get you there. Do not bring personal stories into the picture because whiny, emotional candidates will get their offers revoked. Oh and another thing. Never use a range even if they ask for one. The range game forces you to give a low number, and they will always meet you at your lowest.
4. The Signing Bonus
During your negotiating process, including step 3 above, always drop in the “I’m looking to be at the x amount with a x amount of a signing bonus.” You can ask for a signing bonus that is about 2%-5% of your total salary. (I offer pro bono work to help with negotiations. Just drop me a note.) They could tell you that the company never does signing bonuses, but unless you ask how would you know?
When negotiating a salary, you have to remember that there are a few dollar amounts you are working on, not just your base salary. While benefits may be company wide and unable to be negotiated on, your signing bonus and base pay are both fair game. Always. Ask. For. A. Signing. Bonus.
5. Bidding Wars
Before getting any further with the process, if you have another offer from another company, you can actually use that as tool for negotiating your salary with both companies. Remember a few things before you go down this path:
- Bidding them against each other should be handled with caution. You don’t want to go down a path where you lose both offers.
- You must be almost equally want either or both jobs as much as the other. If you are bidding hard for the one you want, you might lose it and end up with your second best. So while you are negotiating with both, remember who you want to work with more and do not drive them to retract the offer during negotiation.
- Do not reveal the company names, recruiter name, or any information about the other offer to either recruiter. You want to keep everything except the salary numbers undisclosed.
If you are not comfortable with the bidding war, that is perfectly fine. Negotiate each offer as though the other didn’t exist, and make your final decision independently of the other.
6. Benefits Package
Most times you will not be able to negotiate the benefits package with a recruiter. These packages are company wide, for the most part. Some employees higher on the totem pole may get increased benefits. So if you are not completely satisfied with your dollar compensation, you may ask for an increase in the number of vacation days. Or you could even ask for additional compensation like a travel stipend, or a gym membership. Everything is fair game, so go for it.
7. Be Kind
No one, especially recruiters who think they are in control (and they kind of are), likes a self-centered potential employee who may become an issue to the company. When you are in the process of negotiating a salary, know that there are others out there that have interviewed and could be second in line if you choose to decline. So being kind and friendly and get on the same rhythm with your recruiter. This will get make them feel more inclined to work with you. “Is there anything you can do to help me, pleaseee?” is a question I have often heard and used myself, with positive results.
Related: How to Work From Home Effectively
At the end of it all, know your worth and do not settle for something that you will regret months or even weeks from starting a new job. You want to be satisfied in your job. And while monetary compensation isn’t the only thing that will make you happy, it is a large part of it. When you negotiate your salary, you are telling yourself and your potential employer your worth. You are letting them know you are worth more than what they are offering and you are ready to fight the good fight to get what you deserve.
Once you accept an offer, the mid or annual bonuses or increases will be minuscule and that is something you cannot change at any future point. Negotiating your salary before accepting the job is the only time you will have the upper hand.
Are you negotiating an offer right now? Drop me a note here and I will happily work with you pro bono.
Featured photo courtesy of pexels.com
Article last updated on August 16th, 2021
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