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Tips to Help You Negotiate a Better Salary or Job Offer

Written by

Abbey Harris

Date

January 5, 2018

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How to negotiate a better salary or job offer

Congratulations! You got the job. You’ve received the offer. Now what? You can do one of two things: accept the offer as is or negotiate a better salary or job offer that meets your needs. Likely, you are relieved and excited to finally have an offer in hand and your first instinct (and maybe even the advice of your closest confidantes) is to accept the offer as it stands so as to not rock the boat or seem too demanding upfront.

But many experts suggest this is not the right approach. A recent article by the U.S. News and World Report debunks the myth that “employers will be put off if you try to negotiate.” As the article notes, “as long as you handle the discussion in a pleasant, professional and non-adversarial way, and as long as you’re not asking for an unrealistic amount, no reasonable employer will pull an offer.” That’s not to say that no employer will be disgruntled or pull your offer if you try to negotiate, but if they do, it’s often a sign that the atmosphere would have been dysfunctional and the employer unreasonable anyway. Simply put, “Don’t worry about turning off an employer by reasonable negotiation–you won’t lose any employer worth worrying about.”

Payscale.com takes it a step further in saying that “recruiters and hiring managers expect you to negotiate.” That it’s “part of the hiring process, no matter how much or how little experience you have.

Negotiations aren’t limited to salary alone. If this is your first job offer, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the salary being offered and trying to discern if it’s fair or not, but it’s important to think bigger picture…look at the total compensation, which as Payscale outlines, includes “salary, bonuses, benefits, equity, your schedule, vacation time and education and growth opportunities.” All of this is negotiable.

How to negotiate a better salary or job offer

Below we walk you through the different potential negotiation points that you might want to explore  before accepting a job offer. 

Salary

The dictionary defines salary as “a fixed regular payment, typically paid on a monthly or biweekly basis but often expressed as an annual sum, made by an employer to an employee.” If you’re unhappy with the salary first offered, go back and ask for a little more (or a lot more and negotiate down). If it’s available, they will likely give it to you. If it isn’t, look into making adjustments to one of the items listed below to increase the overall value of the offer.

Bonuses

TheBalance.com defines this type of pay as “compensation over and above the amount of pay specified as a base salary or hourly rate of pay.” These can come in the form of contracted bonus pay (something expressly written into the employment contract to be paid if certain agreed-upon circumstances come to fruition), performance bonuses (typically based on meeting personal goals and company goals), sales commissions (bonuses paid in relation to your sales or performance each pay period). Ask about what bonuses are available, what they are worth and how you might be able to earn one.

Benefits

According to the Business Dictionary, these are “indirect and non-cash compensations paid to an employee.” Some of these are mandated by law (like social security and unemployment) while others vary based on employer and industry (like health and life, pension, etc.).

Equity

Business Dictionary defines this as, “ownership interest or claim of a holder of common stock (ordinary shares) and some types of preferred stock (preference shares) of a company.” Ask if there is an opportunity for you to earn equity in the company and how those are divvied out. You can ask for more upfront than you’re originally offered, or ask to acquire them more quickly.

Schedule

For salaried, and some hourly, positions, the typical working schedule is a 40-hour work week. How that schedule is divided is, sometimes, up for negotiation. If it’s a part-time position, the number of hours and days to be worked is definitely up for negotiation. Maybe you’re interested in working four, ten-hour days and having one day off. Maybe you’d like to work a flexible schedule where you work your 40 hours, but you do it at your own pace. Sometimes the 40-hour work week is a non-negotiable, but you’ll never know unless you ask.

Vacation time

This is the time that you are paid not to be at work. Most companies offer a set number of paid days off and holidays when they decide to hire you. Sometimes these days or the amount of vacation time you start with is negotiable. If you’ve got three weeks of vacation with your current company, but the new company only offers you two, ask them to match what you’ve already got (this is a good way to increase the value of your offer without asking for more money).

Education

Some companies offer education credits or reimbursements for furthering your education in a field related to the industry the employer serves. Though it’s not directly money in your pocket and is often disbursed to pay you back for money you spend upfront, it’s a benefit outside of salary.

Growth opportunities

Always ask about this. If the salary is low to begin but you are passionate about the job and the company, don’t be afraid to ask where you can go from where you start and how soon it can happen.

Have you negotiated a job offer?  What did you negotiate? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:  Abbey Harris

Abbey Harris is a communications professional with more than 10 years experience working in government, education and retail. She has a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in Communication and Information, both from the University of Tennessee.

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