You've got yourself a job offer, but you are not pleased with the proposed salary. That's okay. Most employers expect that you will try to negotiate on an offer. Before you do so, make sure that you have as much solid information as possible in hand. You should perform research online to figure out typical salaries for the job in the location where you'll be working, as well as your market value based on your number of years and level of experience in the field.
It's important to take a stab at negotiating when you get an offer, and you must do it professionally and effectively. That's why you need to be prepared because you do not want to come back more than a few times with a counterproposal. If you do, you'll probably be viewed as a challenging person before you even start on the job. As you consider your negotiation strategy, remember that there is more than salary that can be discussed. Determine what is most important to you out of the terms below and decide how to tackle the issue of your choice most efficiently and effectively.
1. Salary. This is the most common negotiation term. If this is your sticking point for taking the job, you must determine your value as the employer would see it, not as you do. To that end, you need to do research to figure out a reasonable salary in the industry at your level and location. Resources for this information include Salary.com and Payscale. You can also find salary information on Glassdoor. Don't give the employer a sob story or explanation of why you need the extra money. The hard truth is that they are trying to save the company money, so you better have good evidence of why they should pay you more when there may be other candidates willing to accept the offer as is, or even less.
2. Signing bonus. Many companies prefer to pay a signing bonus rather than agree to a higher salary, so this is an option to consider if you are still concerned with the financials. Just like when you negotiate a higher salary, do your research. Can you find through research – or do you have evidence of the employer or others in the same industry – paying signing bonuses? If so, look at those ranges and identify a figure that would make you feel more comfortable about accepting the offer. In order to persuade them, you need to explain what your acceptance of the offer means in terms of their needs and interests.
3. Vacation. If time off is more important to you than salary, use this as your main negotiation point. Emphasize your high level of productivity and the importance of maintaining that, which translates to extra leave. Human resources may tell you that two weeks is standard practice and nothing more can be done. However, you can ask to discuss it with your future manager.
4. Performance reviews. You may be unhappy with the title that you've been offered. If that's the case, talk to the employer about holding an initial six-month performance review instead of waiting the standard one year. You should be prepared to explain why you feel you'll be operating at the next level by that time and that you'll want to discuss your contributions with your boss earlier than normal. Make it clear that this will serve to help you enhance your performance on the job. Once again, your employer cares about what the company gets out of it, rather than what's in it for you.
5. Relocation expenses. This is an item that an employer typically makes clear during the interview process, so you may be negotiating it sooner. Not all companies will offer to reimburse relocation costs, but many will. If this takes the greatest weight off your mind in accepting a job, ask for how much you will need based on research of the move and solid calculations.
6. Schedule. Work schedule is the toughest negotiation point because the employer doesn't know you or your work yet. You are probably in a better position to negotiate on this if you've come highly recommended or been headhunted. However, it's still worth a try once you've been offered a job if you are keen to work an alternative schedule. Before you propose a modified work schedule, make sure that you are very clear with the employer about what you will do in situations where there is a meeting, significant deadline or business travel during your unscheduled work time.
Negotiating is not easy, but it's a skill you should prepare yourself for as part of the job hunt. Inevitably you will have to do it at some point in your career, even if you don't use it when you receive a job offer. Salary is only one piece of the job offer puzzle, and remember that most everything is negotiable. It's up to you to figure out what matters the most to you and present accurate and persuasive evidence to convince the employer of your value.