You’ve been applying, waiting and hoping. Now you finally have a response. They want to hire you! But then you read the rest of the message and discover that something important is missing.
Maybe the salary is too low. Maybe there is not enough vacation time. Whatever it is, you are now in an extremely common position—if you want to get what you want, you will need to engage in job offer negotiation.
So, how do you come out of the other side of the negotiation with a smile on your face, instead of burdened by regret?
Tips for Getting the Job Offer You Want
1. Be nice.
Sometimes people misunderstand how negotiations are supposed to work. They aren’t situations where you should throw down the gauntlet and make daring demands. Well, at least not most of the time. There may be a situation where negotiating your salary feels like the fight for truth and justice, but in most cases, you are dealing with people who want a good outcome as much as you do.
Being nice is important because it makes employers more likely to give you the things you want. This doesn’t mean you want to be a pushover. You will have to say what you want. But you can do it in a way that doesn’t ruffle feathers too badly.
2. Re-examine your demands.
Strive to do your research on what the average salary is for the position based on your geographical area and your level of experience. It is really easy to make assumptions that do not sync with reality because the business world is changing all the time. You need real-world, recent data to be sure that your requests make sense. They need to make sense to be taken seriously.
3. Prepare for the difficult questions.
Employers are not usually eager to give more than they have to. One of the quickest ways they can shut down requests is to counter with tough questions. You may get asked the exact question you do not want to answer, so do your best to prepare for it. Just try your best to be honest without compromising yourself. The last thing you want is to get your heart’s desire and then have it taken away because they found an inconsistency.
4. Survey the intent of tough questions.
Your reaction to the stress of a tough question may range from uncomfortable fear to forceful pushback. Try to hold your knee-jerk reaction back for a second and look more deeply at the question and the questioner. An employer asking if you have had other offers may not be questioning your value, but just hopeful that you will take the job.
5. Analyze what matters most to you.
Employers have different limitations on what they can do without feeling like they are sacrificing too much. One employer may be happy to bump the salary offer, while another may find it much easier to add a week of vacation. Hopefully, by knowing what you want most you can find a happy medium with the employer.
6. Make connections.
Ideally, you will spend some time making a plan before you start negotiating. You can be sure that the employer has made a plan. But plans are only the first stage. Negotiations ultimately involve people. The better you can connect with the person you are negotiating with, the more favorably he or she is going to take your requests.
7. Avoid tunnel vision.
It is completely normal to find yourself obsessing over an element of a job offer—usually the salary. But in negotiations you are trying to land the best overall deal you can get. Your full experience working in the position is going to involve a lot of factors, including company culture, vacation & personal time, free perks, opportunities for advancement, valuable training and of course, salary. Avoid focusing so hard on getting the salary number up that you lose track of other important factors.
8. Come with a list of your needs.
It may seem counterintuitive—especially when you want to be respectful and friendly—but asking for only one change at a time can backfire. Instead of being grateful that you gave them time to think about your salary increase request before asking about vacation time, they may get upset. They may feel like they already gave plenty with the salary. Now you want more? To avoid this problem, ask for most of what you want at the same time.
Some things are more important to you than others. You will benefit by communicating your priorities in negotiations because it gives the other side something to work with. Framing negotiations so each side can “win” is a major part of being a successful negotiator.
10. Avoid ultimatums.
Avoid drawing a line in the sand if you can help it. Ultimatums are rigid and inspire rigid reactions. Try to soften your demands enough so that employers can see they are important, but not so forceful they inspire pushback.