5 Tips for Successful Salary Negotiations
Job-offer negotiations are complex and multi-faceted. Companies are more likely than ever to get creative with their offers, including benefits like remote work and signing bonuses that make it difficult to compare apples to apples. Add to that a competitive job market in which candidates feel pressured to accept any offer that comes along, and you risk shooting yourself in the foot by taking less than you could have gotten.
Imagine this scenario. You have a great interview with a company you like, and it seems they like you too. You’d have a short commute, opportunities for upward mobility, and an ideal company culture. But, their offer is below your salary range, and you know if you take it, you’ll be strapped for cash. Technically you can make it work, and you want the job… but should you accept the offer and live with the consequences?
This is where your negotiation skills – or your ability to support your recruiter – really come into play. Here are five strategies that all job seekers in today’s competitive market should know when negotiating job offers.
Set Yourself up for Success from the Start
It’s tempting to undersell yourself when looking for a job because you don’t want to risk losing out on any opportunities. Giving a low salary requirement to the recruiter or hiring manager seems like a good idea at first blush because you know they won’t rule you out based on your salary requirements. However, doing so guarantees that their offer will be below what you’d actually take, making your future negotiations much more difficult.
Instead, know your worth and ask for it upfront. If you need to be making $90K, don’t tell the recruiter you’d consider $80K “for the right position.” If you’re not going to move, make sure the employer knows relocation isn’t an option. The more people understand your needs upfront, the less you’ll have to push them to meet your requirements; you wouldn’t have made it this far if they weren’t willing to at least come close.
It’s critical that you’re transparent with the hiring team or recruiter about what you’re looking for, what you’d accept, and what you need from the get-go. When negotiating your compensation package, the worst thing you can do is throw a curveball at the last minute.
Be Transparent Throughout Negotiations
Employers understand that you’re a real person with financial obligations and personal circumstances that make some factors non-negotiable. They’ll work to get you the most important things, but you have to tell them what those are with honesty and transparency throughout the entire hiring process.
Job offers usually come in at the salary the candidate requested. If an offer comes in at what was originally requested and you then say you actually need a higher base or more remote flexibility or anything along those lines , tell the recruiter or hiring manager why. For example, if you’re asking for an extra $10k, share your reason. Is there another offer on the table? Would you need to move? Are their other benefits sub-par?
Making a case for why you need – and deserve – a higher salary than the original offer helps the recruiters and hiring managers go to bat for you to advocate for more money. The more information you give them to work with, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to get you the increased salary.
Hiring is a dance where both the employer and the candidates have a limited amount of time and interactions to evaluate the other. That’s why you must communicate quickly and clearly throughout the hiring process.
When an offer comes in and you need time to think about it, be specific about your needs. “I’d like three days to consider” is a perfectly valid response to an offer, but don’t leave them hanging – check-in during that time, even if it’s just to thank people for interviews or follow up with questions. That way, they know you’re not ghosting them.
The same goes with a recruiter. They’ll do everything they can to advocate for you with the company, but they need to know what you’re doing and thinking after an offer comes in. Going MIA helps no one – least of all yourself.
Perhaps the best piece of advice to keep in mind when negotiating job offers today is that you can – and should – get creative in your “ask.” Remember, there’s more to the job than just your salary! If the company comes in with a lower offer than you wanted, don’t panic; ask for something else that’s important to you.
Your options look different depending on the type of company. For example, some companies may agree to a sign-on bonus to get your total compensation up to what you need, while others offer equity or stock options as an added incentive. In today’s job market, it’s increasingly common to ask for increased flexibility and the option to work remotely, either full-time or occasionally.
It’s vital to consider the big picture and remember that you’ll regret not asking for something that would make a meaningful difference in your life. If you want to clock out at 4:00 so that you can pick up your kid from school and finish the day at home, ask! The worst thing they’re going to do is say no, and the best thing they’ll do is say yes.
Look at the Big Picture – Counter & Competing Offers
When you’ve accepted an offer and given your notice, it’s not uncommon for the current employer to make a counteroffer. After all, it’s expensive to replace an employee – so they’ll scramble to try to keep you. Similarly, if a company is interested enough in you to make an offer, they’ll likely give a bit to compete against other offers on the table.
When evaluating counteroffers, consider if what they’re offering is actually going to make you happier; if you’ve decided to leave your current role, chances are it wasn’t just for more money. If your current employer comes back to you with a more competitive offer, really consider whether this will address the reasons you’re looking to leave. Chances are, it isn’t; 50% of professionals who accepted a counter offer at their current employer still leave within twelve months, and that percentage continues to grow over time. While a counter offer may seem like a great option, it by no means guarantees that the issues that pushed you to look elsewhere (lack of work life balance, callous manager, hostile environment, unrealistic expectations, lack of career progression, etc.) will improve.
Take the entire package into account when evaluating other offers on the table, too. Yes, the salary matters, but so do things like remote work, health insurance, PTO, and company culture. If one company is a better fit for you, don’t be tempted by a slightly higher base salary from another offer.
There’s typically a reason for salary differences between competing offers. One offer may be $90K with a great work-life balance, while a $100k offer may require a 50-60 hour work week. What is more important to you? You can always take the job that will make you happier and advocate for a raise or bonus to make up the difference later. Remember, the whole reason you’re looking for a new job is to find a better fit, and that’s just as important as salary when weighing offers; make sure you are keeping that in mind.
Deciding whether – and how – to negotiate a job offer is stressful. We hope these tips can help you move the conversation in the right direction. Happy job hunting!