So you have just (at long last!) received a real bona fide job offer, or are about to.
Follow this simple 4 step process:
- Get excited – show some enthusiasm!
- Get the offer in writing
- Buy some time to evaluate the offer and put together your negotiating points
1. Get Excited – Show Some Enthusiasm!
When an employer makes a candidate a job offer, they have made a buying decision. Of all the hundreds of people they could have selected for this position, they have spent untold hours going through résumés, several rounds of interviews, and deliberations after each interview to finally choose a candidate – you!
Make them feel good about their decision. It’s basic sales psychology. When a buyer makes a purchasing decision, the salesperson does everything in his or her power to make the buyer feel like they have made a great decision. The salesperson wants to eliminate the possibility of a phenomenon called buyer’s remorse, if at all possible.
How do you make the hiring manager or person making you the offer feel great? Get excited about the offer and show some enthusiasm! Let them know you are looking forward to reviewing the offer and can’t wait to start working.
2. Get the Offer in Writing
If you haven’t received the offer in writing yet, make sure a written offer is on its way (email is okay). Until you have the offer in writing, you really don’t have a legitimate offer. Why? If something should happen to the person who made you the offer, there is no way to confirm what was offered.
A lot of times employers will run an offer by a candidate verbally to gauge their response before committing to the offer in writing. The best way to handle that situation is to let the employer know that you are excited about the offer and then ask when you can expect to see the offer in writing so you can properly evaluate it.
So the written offer finally arrives either via email or snail mail. Now what? Can you negotiate a job offer? The answer is yes.
3. Buy Some Time to Evaluate the Offer and Put Together Your Negotiating Points
A perfect time to schedule a follow-up meeting is when you are on the phone with an employer and they are making you a verbal offer. Why? Once you have found out when you will receive their offer in writing, you can use that meeting for the purpose of asking any clarifying questions…and to negotiate!
Frame it for the employer by saying that you would like a couple of days to review the offer after you receive it in writing to make sure you understand it and see if you have any questions. Then schedule a follow-up meeting, either in person (ideal) or over the phone, to ask your questions and move things forward.
Use those couple of days to review the offer and to make a list of points you want to negotiate or have questions about. Prioritize the list of things you want to negotiate with the most important at the top of your list. For each negotiating point, come up with a reason, some evidence, to support your desire to discuss this point. Once you’ve done this, you are ready to negotiate!
The thing that sets employment offer negotiations apart from other forms of business negotiations is that, in order for the process to be successful, it must be a win-win situation for both the employer and the new employee.
If you are meeting in person, bring a list of “talking points” with you; be sure to bring a copy for you and a copy for the person you are meeting with. If you are going to discuss the offer over the phone, make sure the person you will be speaking with has access to their computer so you can email them the list of talking points when you get them on the phone. Do NOT email them the list of talking points ahead of time because a set of talking points alone looks like a list of demands. You must avoid this impression at all cost!
In this process you can ask for anything, but you can demand nothing!
Begin the discussion by reiterating how excited you are to receive the offer and how much you are looking forward to getting started within the company. Then say something like, “I’ve had a chance to review the offer and have a few questions and some things I may need your help with. To make sure I don’t forget anything, I’ve put together a list of things to keep us on track.”
Then bring up the first item you want to negotiate from your list. Present some evidence to support your request for their help and wait for their response. For example, say you want to try to increase the salary that was offered. Based on your research, their offer was at the bottom of the range. Given your recent internship experience in the field you feel you deserve a higher salary based on your experience.
Here is a good way to approach the discussion. “The first point I’d like to discuss is salary. Based on my research on salary.com, the offer is at the bottom of the salary range for this position in the current market. Also, given my recent internship experience at XYZ Technologies I feel a higher salary is justified. What can you do to help me with this?” Then be quiet and don’t say anything until the other person responds.
See what they say. They may have to get back to you because they don’t have the authority to make that kind of decision on the spot. Or they may ask you how much money you are asking for. Be careful here! By giving them a specific number you lock yourself in and run the risk of asking for less than they would have given you if you left it up to them to come back with a number.
Repeat this process with each item you want to negotiate. Now is the time to get everything you want on the table for discussion. You can’t add new items to a negotiation later on. Take notes on what the employer counter-offers or agrees to. It will be up to the employer to produce a revised offer based on the outcome of your conversation. Once you and the employer reach agreement on all points, the negotiation process is done.
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