STEP 1 – PREPARATION
- Before you can assess a job offer, you must make sure you have information about the market. Important information includes the following: salary averages for your field and in your geographic area of interest, average salaries that your peers received, norms in your field, such as where you can push in negotiation, and which things are non-negotiable, such as benefits or stock options. You can find this information in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Web sites, Career Advancement Center, and through your professional network.
- Identify and rank your value issues. This will help you remember an offer is not just about salary, but about what you value in a position.
STEP 2 – KNOW THE EMPLOYER'S COMPENSATION GUIDELINES
- How does a job offer process develop? Although there are many ways to deliver an offer, they are typically presented from one of three different viewpoints:
- Fixed Offer: You can negotiate all you want, but it won't do you any good. They operate on a take-it or leave-it basis, so you may not want to waste your time negotiating.
- Pay-Grade System: This is a system in which a salary range has been set and you will be paid within this range based on your experience and the duties associated with the job. You may be able to negotiate within the salary range. The pay-grade system is the most common compensation system encountered.
- The Negotiator: This type of system is rare because most organizations work within a structure. In thisframework, the employer will have the authority to raise or lower your salary without going through bureaucratic red tape.
STEP 3 – SALARY AND BENEFIT NEGOTIATION
- If an employer makes an offer that is below your expectation, clarify what the benefits are. If the offer still isn’t competitive, try one of these approaches:
Approach 1: I’m very interested in the role, but I would like to discuss the salary you’re offering.
Approach 2: I really want this position, but I was a little disappointed the offer was lower than I expected.
- When using either approach, be certain to support your case by stating your skills, the average salary range for your level of experience in your field. Let the employer respond, and then continue the discussion from their lead.
- Based on an employer's compensation guidelines, you may not be able to negotiate a higher salary. However, you may be able to increase your compensation via benefits. Negotiable areas often include: vacation time (it's often increased for more senior employees), educational reimbursement, flex time, and salary review (you might negotiate a salary review after three months rather than six months or a year). Remember, you may be negotiating with the person who will be your supervisor. Stay polite. Try to make it a win-win situation.
STEP 4 – ASSESSING THE JOB OFFER
- Consider the pros and the cons of the offer. It may help to create a chart. A chart may also be helpful if you have had more than one offer, and you want to compare and contrast the merits of each offer.
STEP 5 – GET IT IN WRITING!
- It would be nice if everything discussed would actually occur, but unfortunately it doesn't always happen that way. To avoid problems in the future, ask for a letter of employment which states all the employment conditions agreed upon, (i.e. salary and benefits as well as a thorough job description). This way, if there is confusion at a later date, you will have a written document to refer to stating the conditions under which you were hired. This document is especially important if the conditions of your employment differ from normal company policies.
A FINAL WORD
- Keep in mind that if you decide to negotiate, your job offer will not be rescinded by the employer, even if he/she decides not to negotiate. Also, if a position is acceptable to you as it is offered, you should not feel like you must negotiate.