That magic moment has arrived. You’ve decided it’s time to change jobs and you’ve received a job offer. And it’s with a company you’ve been hoping to work for because of its reputation for innovation and how it treats its employees. Your first inclination is to just say yes to whatever package you’re offered without doing any negotiating.
That’s just not a good idea.
The job may seem very exciting and full of potential but you need to stop, take a deep breath and think carefully about the offer and whether you could negotiate a better deal. Do you consider yourself to be a good negotiator? If so, you’re in the minority. Most people don’t think of themselves as good negotiators. But it’s an important part of how our economic system works and it’s probably not going to go away anytime soon. So you just need to come to grips with it.
Negotiating won’t cost you the job
The first thing to understand is that negotiating for a better job offer won’t hurt your relationship with the employer. It expects you to negotiate. In fact, most employers say that the only time negotiations might cost a person a job is if she or he acts like a total moron.
What you need to know to be a successful negotiator
While there are no hard and fast rules for successful negotiating there are some tips that should help. We’ve already shared the first tip, which is don’t accept the first offer. Beyond this, here six things you need to know about negotiating.
1. Get it all in writing
What’s most common is to get the offer verbally. Unfortunately, this puts the onus on you to write down everything. It doesn’t matter if your prospective employer says it will send you the information in writing in the next day or two. You still need to write everything down. You may be told things that are not just monetary. For example, if you are told the company has just 30 employees, write it down. Also be sure to write down anything that has to do with the scope of your job such as, “We’ll be converting our website to HTML5”. If the offer includes equity in the company it’s especially important to write down everything you’re told about it. The reason for this is to have a paper trail in the event that the offer you see in writing doesn’t match what you were told over the phone.
2. Never close the door on a job offer
The person on the other end of the phone may try to trick you into a decision. Or she or he may try to tie you into something you really didn’t commit to. If this is the case, you’ll need to do some verbal gymnastics to defeat this until you’re ready to make your final decision. If it turns out that you simply can’t negotiate an offer to your liking, don’t close the door on things. For example, you might say, “While your offer sounds good, I’m talking to a few other companies at this point so I’m in no position to make a decision. But I would love to be a member of your team so maybe we will be able to finalize a package that will make both of us happy”.
3. Stay positive
The company is making an offer because it believes that you will work hard for it and stay for many years. But if you lose your excitement during the negotiating process then the company may lose confidence that you’ll actually want to work hard for it. Employers are terrified that their candidates will “go bad” during the negotiations. No matter what happens during the negotiating process always give the impression that you’re still excited about working for the company even if the timing or the money is not working out. The best way to do this is to be positive and keep reiterating the fact that you like the company, its mission and what they’re working on and you really hope that things work out.
4. Make someone else the decision maker
A very important tactic in negotiating a job offer is to leave the company with the idea that you need to discuss the offer package with your friends or family members. This leaves the recruiter believing that the true “decision-maker” is beyond her or his reach. This technique is often used in customer support as it’s much more difficult to pressure someone if that person is not the final decision-maker. Plus, it can help reduce or eliminate tension.
5. Let other companies know when you have an offer
If you’re in the process of interviewing with other companies – which you certainly should be – let them know when you receive a job offer. Try to use this to build a sense of urgency. You may let the recruiter know the name of the company where you have an offer if it’s very well known or, better yet, a competitor. If the company that made the offer is one no one has ever heard of then just say that you’ve received an offer. You should also let the recruiter know if the offer has an expiration date as this is a great way to add a sense of urgency to things.
Timing can be critical to the negotiating process. As a general rule you should begin interviewing with large companies earlier. The reason for this is that their hiring processes are usually slower so you will have more time to make a decision. In comparison, startup companies tend to be the other way around. Also, when you do receive an offer be sure to request more time to make your decision. This is especially important if it’s your first offer. In fact, more time is the most valuable thing you can request. This is because it’s time you could use to activate more companies and maybe end up with a better offer. If necessary, be prepared to fight for more time as it can be your most valuable ally.
Finally, here’s a video jam-packed with more tips for negotiating a job offer.