How to negotiate a job offer

Calculate what your value to a company is and consider non-financial benefits too
by Bethan Rees


Receiving a job offer is usually a cause for celebration. It's also a good time to start negotiating. According to a blog by US-based employment screening service company JDP, of 1,997 people JDP surveyed, 41% say they negotiate every job offer they receive. In the US, 89% of organisations “are open to negotiating salary for some or all positions”, according to a PR Newswire article, which references a 2021 survey of 324 US employers by XpertHR.

Salary isn't the only thing open to negotiation though, as benefits packages and working arrangements should also be considered.

In a Fast Company article, Stephanie Vozza quotes Lisa Rangel, executive resume writer at Chameleon Resumes and former executive recruiter. Rangel says: “Always negotiate … This is the secret high achievers know. They don’t wait to be offered a great salary. They ask for it and present proof as to why it is warranted.”

Negotiating should be a collaborative process, resulting in a win-win scenario, writes Caroline Castrillon in a Forbes article.

Do your homework

What kind of financial situation is the company in? Castrillon suggests finding out as much as you can about the company's financial situation and the viability of the new position being offered.

In the Fast Company article, Vozza quotes Paul Sorbera, president of executive search firm Alliance Consulting. Sorbera recommends finding out how long the company has been looking to fill the position, what level of turnover the role has had, and why, and how urgent filling the position is. "If you’re the right candidate and you know the company is challenged, it can give you an advantage in negotiating," Sorbera says.

Find out what the market salary range is for a position also, which may indicate how a salary varies based on location and experience. Sites such as Glassdoor and PayScale can provide this information.

What's your value?

In the Forbes article, Castrillon says that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, "your skills and values are the same", and that if you are unemployed, this shouldn't change your value. She recommends deciding on a salary range and sticking to it.

Understanding the value you can bring to a company is an essential tool needed for negotiating an offer. In an interview process, you may have in mind your previous or current salary for a role. However, according to Vozza in the Fast Company article, Rangel says it's best to negotiate based on the value you bring rather than focusing on a “past-salary mindset”. Vozza also quotes Jen Hwang, chief strategy officer for job market app tilr. Hwang advises tying in the value of the requested salary and the impact on the company in a quantifiable manner. "Help the employer see that they are getting an excellent deal when it comes to return on investment," Hwang is quoted.

In a Forbes council post, Jamie Hoobanoff, founder and CEO of recruitment firm The Leadership Agency, says that you can convey your value in salary negotiations without talking about money. "Be enthusiastic about discussing the role, how you plan to be successful in it and what you bring to the table," she writes. "Every conversation you have with a potential employer is a part of your contract negotiation. So, you need to be demonstrating the value you will bring to the organisation right from the outset. Your professionalism, confidence and character from the very first conversation can impact your potential offer."

More than money

In a Wall Street Journal article, Deborah Acosta says that there are elements other than salary that should be negotiated, and that these may make the difference as to whether you feel appropriately compensated for your work or not. These could include benefits such as health insurance, subsidised childcare, stock options, annual leave and working remotely or flexibly. "Find out what terms are on the table so you can prioritise which ones matter most to you before the initial job offer", writes Acosta.

Vozza quotes Will Bachman, co-founder and managing partner of Umbrex, a networking community for independent management consultants, in the Fast Company article. Bachman says: "An employer may have a hard limit on salary, but have more flexibility on the number of vacation days … A prospective employee who obtains an extra week of vacation gains an effective 2% increase in the salary per day worked."

Bachman adds that if the employer does have a hard limit on salaries, candidates should identify whether there are clear metrics for salary increases in the future.

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Published: 12 Feb 2021
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • childcare
  • employment benefits
  • salary
  • job offer
  • Recruitment
  • flexible working
  • Covid-19
  • career development

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