You should know that everything about a new job offer is negotiable, from your salary and vacation time to your job description and professional membership fees. How much you can gain from your new job depends on numerous factors, including the size of the prospective employer, your professional level, and your background and skills. Your success in negotiations also depends on how skillfully you can present your basis for getting the best possible compensation package.You can start negotiations only after you have been given a formal job offer. When you enter into negotiations, be aware that a prospective employer may withdraw an offer if it feels that your requests are excessive and not in line with what the company can offer. To make sure that you don’t find yourself in this unpleasant situation, let the prospective employer know that you are committed to joining the firm, but that you feel that you bring more value to the firm than what the offer represents. Use concrete examples to illustrate your points, drawing upon your expertise, work history, technical skills and certifications, awards and recognition, education, professional network, and intangible skills (such as communication and presentation abilities). Be sure to, at every possibility, link how what you have to offer directly meets the company’s needs.
Here are some additional ground rules to follow to negotiate your best possible compensation package:
- Do your homework. Before you begin negotiations, do some research on the base salaries for your professional level, market, and geographic location. Once a prospective employer has made the job offer, don’t accept it right away. Ask for a few days to make your decision-this will also give you time to prepare for your negotiations.
- Don’t state your salary requirements. Let the prospective employer establish the baseline. If you are the first person to suggest a salary requirement, you run the risk of providing a figure that is either higher or lower than the company’s estimate-and this gaffe can result in a poor impression of you. Instead, ask the prospective employer for the salary range of the position that has been offered. It is to your advantage to start negotiations from a figure the company offers.
- Show your interest in the company. Throughout your discussions with a prospective employer, be sure to state your interest in the position, company, and industry. If you appear to be interested in the company, an employer is much more likely to give you what you want than if you appeared to have lukewarm feelings for the firm.
- Do not embellish the truth. If a prospective employer requests information about your latest salary and other benefits, do not lie in hopes of getting a better compensation package. Employers can easily verify the information that you provide. If an employer finds that you have lied, you will probably jeopardize not only your compensation package, but your offer for employment as well.
- Think beyond salary. If a hirer cannot meet your salary demands, think about negotiating for other items in your compensation package. These can include your job description and scope of work, starting date, budget and resources, relocation expenses, company match for a 401(k), vacation time, education assistance expenses, professional and gym memberships, company car reimbursement, stock options, bonus, and medical, dental, and other insurance plans.
- Don’t panic. If a prospective employer does not immediately respond to one of your negotiation demands, don’t panic. Let the hirer make the next move. Also, if a prospective employer says that he or she does not think the company can meet your demands, keep the conversation going by staying somewhat flexible in your demands.
- Don’t give up. If a prospective employer cannot meet some of your demands, try negotiating long-term items, including an automatic pay increase after an annual review.
- Get the offer in writing. Once you agree to a total package, get the final offer in writing.
Remember, salary negotiations can be a stressful time for both you and your prospective employer. Stay respectful and professional at all times-you don’t want to damage a working relationship or a valuable contact.
By knowing what your ideal compensation package is, and by following these few negotiating tips, you can successfully obtain the best compensation package possible for you.