Negotiating a job offer is the ultimate test for a presenter. You have to know your facts, think on your feet, and convince someone to give you more than they originally intended to! If you do it right, you’ll get what you want, and the company and the HR department will think they are still getting a steal of a deal. Do it wrong and you might have tarnished your reputation right from the get go.
So how do you negotiate a better deal without burning bridges? I can honestly say that I have been on both sides of the fence. My very first offer negotiation was a disaster: I didn’t get anything above what they offered and HR was offended enough to pass on some “feedback” to my new boss. However my most recent negotiation was a masterpiece. I followed some simple tips and tricks that I’m going to share with you today!
1. Do your homework
Use resources like glassdoor.com and industry specific forums and web sites to really find out what competitive salaries are for the position you are applying for. Then outline for yourself the reasons why you think you exceed those base line expectations. After all, if you can’t convince yourself that you deserve more, you won’t be able to convince them! Often a starting position doesn’t have a lot of room to negotiate. I got around this by asking them to start me at higher position, which came with a correspondingly higher salary.
Sometimes salaries aren’t negotiable but things like vacation days and the ability to telecommute are. Be sure to keep those options open as well.
2. Negotiate respectfully
The idea is to get as much as you can without leaving a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Start by saying how excited you are for the opportunity but that you felt given your skill set and unique circumstance you were hoping for X. Be very specific at this stage, they have made you an offer, you need to counter it.
Re-read your email a few times over a couple hours before sending it out. Even have a friend read it. What may sound polite in your head, may not come across that way in an email.
If you are negotiating over the phone or in person, be sure to always consider what the company and the HR departments goals are. Why should they give you more anyways? What’s the real benefit to them? They don’t necessarily care that market rates are higher, or that you have special skills. They do care that you can uniquely benefit them with your skills, and that the additional compensation is still a great deal for them!
3. Find out who the final decision maker is and communicate with them
In my case I was negotiating with the HR person, but I knew who the final decision maker was. I sent him an email recounting that I received the offer but didn’t feel it reflected my experience (which I went on to specify) and that I was in negotiations and was optimistic. I didn’t directly try to negotiate with him. The idea here is that you want to make sure the decision maker is clearly on your side. Sometimes HR people are powerful and have some standards in place regarding new hires, you really need to make sure that *someone* is on your side and has the authority to overrule HR.
In the end, your bargaining power will depend upon how impressive a candidate you are. And that battle starts long before the offer: It starts today by getting involved, having a great resume and cover letter, and killing that interview!
Remember, negotiating like presenting, is an art form. So make you next negotiation into a masterpiece!