You just interviewed for the perfect position at this amazing company. Afterwards, you feel the interview went well (because you read my last blog), but you’re still nervous about getting the offer. Turns out, you were overreacting and the recruiter tells you that you’ve been hired…if you want it. Of course, you want it, but their starting salary wasn’t exactly what you were expecting and the benefits package seems a little skimpy. You aren’t quite sure where or how to start negotiating, but it’s not as intimidating as you think.
Negotiating makes some people uncomfortable and that’s understandable. It’s always awkward watching the contestants on Flea Market Flip try to sell their flea market creations for too much money and have people interested, but then say no and walk away. Nobody wants that feeling of rejection, so there’s a few key components any negotiator needs to consider prior to doing so.
You need to know the market. Typically, you’ll work either with an outside hiring agency or with the company’s recruiter to discuss salary and benefit expectations. Now, all jobs are created differently, so they all have different ranges of wages depending on what the job entails. Fun fact: Majority of [professional] job positions do not have a set salary. A person’s salary depends on a few different things including prior jobs, volunteer opportunities, and internships. These can teach you skills that you can utilize in the position making you a great candidate.
When you start negotiating, you need to market yourself and make the hirer want you. You may be desperate for a job so you can pay rent and not be in debt to that Chinese restaurant downstairs, but know your worth. Prior to negotiating, you should set a bottom line of a salary and benefits that you won’t (and can’t) go under. It’s smart to calculate how much money you need to make to live comfortably and don’t go below that. Nobody cares about how cool your job is if you’re living in a box.
Now, you may be a fantastic person and believe you were made for this job, but there is always a point of no. If you’re a parent – you already have that down. While you may know your bottom line, be reasonable. At first, you’ll be offered a starting salary that you can negotiate off of and it will never be the best offer. You can negotiate that starting number up 5% to 7% (try to keep it under 10%). This means, don’t go overboard and counter with a ridiculous number. Remember there is more than just the salary – benefits exist as well. Negotiating is a back and forth game, but you need to know when enough is enough. You don’t want to be cocky and try to oversell yourself that the company withdraws their offer (…yeah, that happens). Be respectful, but stand your ground and know your worth, but also when to stop.
From first contact to accepting the offer, you should show interest. In the interview, you want to seem enthusiastic about the job position, but you should still play it cool. Questions are the most important part of the hiring process. You want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. There is nothing worse than thinking you got hired for a position and really do work for another.
Sometimes when the offer is too good, you get excited and immediately accept it. DO NOT DO THAT. That is bad. You should never accept a job on the spot. Being excited is good, but don’t be taken advantage of. It’s normal to say, “Thank you for the offer, but I would like some time to think about it.” and go home and call your mom to get her input and then call the company back to accept it. Whether you wait two hours or two days to make up your mind, that’s okay.
But wait! There’s more…
There’s more to a salary than just money believe it or not. Money is definitely important, but benefits are a fantastic perk of working for companies too. Everything from vacation to insurance can be negotiated.
Most companies have a standard benefits package that they will offer. Benefits are a little trickier to negotiate, but don’t let that stop you from asking questions. Depending on yourself and what you would prefer, your benefits may be more or less important.
Vacation is primarily the number one benefit negotiated. Everybody loves to travel on the holidays, so figure out what the holiday schedule is, how that impacts your vacation, and go from there. Ask how paid time off works versus sick days and vacation days. There’s two different types of holidays in the corporate world if you didn’t now – set and flexible. Set holidays are those like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July. Those flexible holidays would be your “holiday days” that you can use as you please. Knowing exactly how the company sees vacation and holidays is another key point in negotiating vacation.
People are busy. There’s no doubt about that. Kids get sick. Classrooms need you to volunteer. The football team needs you to carpool to the state championship. Things happen and you want to know if you’ll have a flexible schedule. There’s just some days you don’t want to get out of your pajamas, so knowing about their work from home policy is important. The work week hours can also be negotiated. I mean, there is a set number of hours you need to work by law, but if your child’s school doesn’t start until 8:00am and they want you there at 7:00am – that’s a problem. These are all things to consider when talking to the recruiter about different package possibilities
When you accept your final offer and it still isn’t what you wanted, you can [sometimes] negotiate a signing bonus for compensation. You may have lost a couple thousand dollars on your salary, but the company might feel bad about it and offer up an extra couple thousand the first year to meet your needs.
If the job requires you to relocate, the company may have a relocation package. This may pay for movers, moving trucks, and maybe even time off for you to move in. Sometimes, this is included in the signing bonus as compensation for your troubles.
Once you’ve moved and gotten settled in your new house, somebody gets sick. What about your new medical insurance? Most large companies have different insurance packages you can choose from, so sit and analyze them to know which one would best work for you and your family. There isn’t much negotiation here, but you can know what all is included. Dental? Physical Therapy?
My Final Offer for You
Each individual looks at an offer differently. Some people just want money and some people want flexibility. Which one you choose to focus and negotiate more on is up to you, but there is one statement that remains the same – know your worth. New jobs are intimidating, but do all that you can to ensure an easy transition and a transition you’ll be happy with.