by Lisa McGrimmon
Effectively negotiating a job offer is made easier with a few rules. Discover when you have the most power in the job search process, and learn how to negotiate an employment offer to avoid disappointment and get a great deal.
The ideal time for negotiation is after you have been offered the position, but before you have accepted it.
This point is the time when you have the most power in the process.
When the employer has offered you a job, but you have not accepted it yet, the employer:
When the employer is in that mindset, you have the most power in the job search process, and that is the best opportunity for negotiating a job offer.
Avoid Salary Negotiations During an Interview Whenever Possible
If you try to get into salary negotiation during an interview, you will not be operating from your best position of power. Do not initiate salary, benefit or vacation negotiations during the interviewing process.
The interview should be used to demonstrate to the employer that you are the best candidate for the job. If you jump into salary negotiations in interviews, many employers will lose interest in you as a candidate because you may appear to be uninterested in the work itself.
At this stage, you are more easily replaced in the minds of employers because they know they have several other candidates who could be a great fit.
At the interview phase, you have not yet convinced the employer that you are worth the salary you want, so now is not the time for negotiating a job offer. When the employer offers you the job, you know you have convinced him or her that you are worth the salary you want, and that is the best time for negotiating a job offer.
Sometimes people are just so happy to be offered a job, or so nervous about the idea of negotiating a job offer, they end up accepting without ever knowing about pay, benefits, working conditions, etc.
Once you have been offered a job, it is absolutely crucial to ask the employer all of the relevant questions about salary, benefits, vacation and any other questions related to working conditions that are relevant to your situation.
Never accept an offer without gathering this information first.
Negotiating a job offer after you have accepted is a bit like walking onto a used car lot, telling the sales person that you love a particular car and want to buy it no matter what, and then trying to get the sales person to give you a great price on the car. It's not going to happen.
You lose a lot of power in salary negotiation once you have accepted, so it is best to get the details about salary, benefits and working conditions and ensure they are appropriate before you accept.
Information is crucial at this stage of evaluating and negotiating a job offer. Once you are at the interview stage of searching for employment, you need to complete some research so you know what salary is reasonable to expect based on the work that you do, your location, your level of experience and any special expertise you may have.
You can find more information about researching salaries in the following articles:
When negotiating a job offer, you ideally want the employer to tell you what he or she had in mind for a starting salary. If the amount s/he states is not in a range that is acceptable to you, you might decide to negotiate a bit.
Be sure to remind the employer why you are worth the salary that you are asking for, and be sure that the salary you are asking for is reasonable based on the research you have completed.
If the employer is not able to offer the salary you would like, you may try negotiating for other benefits such as an extra week of vacation time, or the flexibility to work from home on some days, that would make up for a slightly lower salary. Alternatively, you may ask the employer if your salary could be reviewed following your probation period.
Once you have agreed upon salary and other benefits and working conditions, you might ask the employer to provide a letter that lists everything you have agreed upon. Getting the information in writing can help to eliminate potential misunderstandings.
Be sure to be friendly and professional when you ask for the details in writing
If the employer doesn't provide you with an employment offer letter, you have a few options
Some employers (especially smaller ones) simply do business in a less formal way and providing job offer letters may not be part of their normal hiring process. It does not necessarily mean that the employer is not a good person to work for.
Sometimes a refusal to provide a written offer of employment is a signal that the company may not be a good place to work. It is not always the case, for some employers written offers of employment are just not a part of their process.
No one can tell you whether an offer and specific working conditions are right for you; you have to decide for yourself, but do be aware that refusing to put an employment offer in writing might be a sign that there are problems with the employer.
If an employer does not provide a written offer of employment, you may write your own letter that details the conditions you and the employer agreed upon. If you do write this type of letter, be absolutely professional and positive.
You may write something along the lines of: "I am thrilled to be joining the team at ABC Company and look forward to working in the role of (list your new job title) as we discussed." Then list the conditions that you agreed upon and close with a paragraph that compliments the company and highlights your happiness to have the job.
I will say that none of my clients (and I've worked with a couple thousand people) has ever, to my knowledge, written this type of acceptance letter, so this idea is more theoretical than most of the ideas on this site, but it is an option you might consider.
If you have multiple job offers, or if the position just does not meet your needs, and you decide to decline the job offer, ensure that you are very professional. Do not burn any bridges because that employer may turn out to become an important business partner with the company you do end up working for, or they might have a more appropriate job available in the future.