Developing Your Career

Six Tips for Negotiating a Job Offer

By Greg Simpson on April 16, 2013

Are you prepared to negotiate a salary after receiving a job offer? With yearly salary increases remaining modest at 3% in many organizations, it’s important to negotiate a favorable compensation package before you join the organization. Remember, as far a salary goes, when you start low, chances are you’re going to stay low. Other benefits are also negotiable, so don’t sell yourself short.

Generally, the higher your position in the organization, the easier it is to negotiate. Keep in mind that smaller companies often have more flexibility when it comes to negotiation. Large companies generally have formal structures in place for salary and benefits due to equity issues across the organization.

Let the following negotiating strategies guide you through the process:

  1. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. While most organizations expect to negotiate with a new hire, it should always be handled pragmatically and intelligently. Do your homework and know what’s realistic in the current market.
  2. Don’t exaggerate your present income. The offer you’ve received is typically part of a complex salary structure and represents the value of that specific position – not necessarily what you were earning in a previous position or what you think you should earn. Ask the recruiter or hiring manager if he or she could share the salary range established for the new position. That way, you can determine where your offer falls within the range.
  3. Negotiate cash compensation first. Once you determine the “wiggle room” for financial compensation, like salary, bonus, incentives, pension and 401(k), consider negotiating other non-monetary benefits, like insurance, vacation, educational assistance, professional membership dues, etc. Try to wait for the company to offer up the first number.
  4. Timing is everything. Negotiation should only take place after you’ve received the job offer, not during the final interviews. Once an offer is extended, don’t accept it on the spot; rather, give yourself time to evaluate the total compensation package.
  5. Compensation is part of an organization’s talent strategy. Always recognize that compensation is designed to attract and retain key talent and is not always completely equal among peers. Recognize how your skills and experience can uniquely make an immediate impact on company performance.
  6. Always remain positive. Companies are willing to negotiate, but recruiters and hiring managers grow annoyed with back and forth negotiating of minutia or with an attitude of arrogance or entitlement.

Negotiating is a natural part of the hiring process, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. Download Lee Hecht Harrison’s 2013 Salary Guide and receive the latest salary data for a wide range of positions in top industries.

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