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How to negotiate an employment offer

How to negotiate an employment offer

Following receipt of an offer, many candidates will experience a degree of pressure emanating from several different directions. The prospective employer will want them to accept and agree a start date fairly rapidly. Whilst their current employer may make a counter offer, or even raise accusations of disloyalty. Perhaps the greatest source of stress at this point is a degree of self-doubt on how to negotiate improvements or alterations to an offer; without the risk of starting off on the wrong foot or jeopardising an offer entirely.

An offer is usually proposed after the final round of interviews and panel deliberation.  However, some employers may put interviewees on the spot with an abrupt offer if they are under time pressures to hire, or see a risk of losing a strong candidate. It is reasonable for the candidate to expect a new position should bring multiple positives; these may include the reward of improved salary and package benefits, greater job satisfaction, future career progression paths or mentorship; but what if they don’t meet the expectations ?

Knowing how to handle these situations confidently can avoid any regrets with hindsight and is a key skill to develop throughout your career.

The do’s

Be prepared

Thoroughly consider what a good result will be for you throughout the interview process and identify any deal-breakers. Different organizations could have vastly different pay scales and benefits packages. Some may simply focus on offering the best possible salary with minimal focus on additional benefits or career progression, or vice-versa. Working out what is important to you, and how you are motivated, is key to determining what a good offer should look like.

Undertake some research on package benchmarks to ascertain what the averages are in your area of expertise; as your current contract may not be the best yardstick. Consider all aspects of the role, company and package before negotiating an offer.

Justify your requests

When asking for improvements or flexibility, make sure you can explain why. Simply asking for more that may be outside of a potential employer’s usual compensation structures could cause negative results. However, if they understand that there are good reasons for your request and not simply accepting the first offer, this may be a discussion worth having for them to secure a fantastic candidate.

Be honest with open lines of communication

Let them know what will secure your acceptance. Simply asking your prospective new boss “what else have you got?” without tangible targets for them to achieve, could create doubt that you will accept or are not serious about the position on offer. Why would they risk asking their Seniors or HR to push the boat out for you, if they could be wasting time, left feeling embarrassed or frustrated when they still don’t get your signature. Be realistic, truthful and commit to certain points that are reasonable.

Offer flexibility and be pragmatic

Seeing the bigger picture can actually be more profitable in the long run. If a company can’t break a salary cap for that particular role, be open to finding other package benefits. Perhaps they could sponsor accredited training, or a guaranteed bonus upon agreed achievements? Take into serious consideration non-monetary offers of mentorship and career progression plans.  Look at the short, medium and long term benefits; it could be worth considering a lower than expected salary initially.

Be confident

It can be nerve-racking to potentially jepordise a really attractive job opportunity by pushing back on an offer that you’re not fully satisfied with. Consider learning at a later date that there was room for negotiation and you didn’t try?  Provided that it is handled in an assured and professional manner, a prospective employer will respect that you are confident in your worth and will want you on their team even more!

The don’t-s

Don’t play games

Don’t just negotiate for the sake of it. If you’ve done your research and your expectations have been met, don’t try to push further just to see how much more you can get. A good offer is usually presented by firms that understand current market values and your level of experience. They may have a strong second choice lined up if you put them off by being unrealistic.

Don’t move the goalposts

If you make your expectations clear from the outset and the organisation meets them, don’t then try to push for completely different benefits to what you had previously requested, simply because you believe you are in a strong position. This is likely to turn a reluctant offer into a complete withdrawal.

Don’t be too self-seeking

Consider your competitors for a moment. Although you have a job offer on the table be aware the employer also has a shortlist of candidates available to them.  Remain realistic and avoid jeopardizing your opportunity with inflated past achievements, or far fetched promises that you cannot achieve, purely to justify additional gain.  Some things just shouldn’t be said and can negatively impact the negotiation process.

Don’t hide important information

Always be mindful of transparency from the start.  Your potential employer and future colleagues will very quickly lose respect for you should issues arise in the future due to withholding relevant information during the interview and offer stage. Building mutual working relationships is key to a successful future.

Handle this negotiation in the right way and you can confidently seal the deal to start that new role, satisfied that a balance has been achieved which is workable for everyone concerned.

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