Think of me as Clark Kent – recruiter by day/fiction writer by night. Although even that analogy doesn’t fly as I do all my best writing between 5 and 8 a.m. But since I have this other personality, I thought I’d bring it out here on the blog to offer a little sage advice to those who struggle with such terrifying life events as negotiating job offers.
Salary negotiation really comes down to power. Who has the power, who knows they have power, and who’s willing to use it.
When you receive an offer from a prospective employer your line, regardless of how bad or how good the offer is, should always go something like this, “Hum…(the hum is important). Thank you for the offer I’m very excited that you selected me as your final candidate. I’ll need some time to review it?” However the words come out, however you phrase it, it must have a Hum…and you must thank them for the offer. The Hum…, triggers their freak-out mechanism and all they hear is “Oh (insert expletive)! This person may not take the offer, how much higher can I afford to go?” The thank you tells them that you’re interested and will probably say yes if they give a little more. It’s your poker face – always hide the emotion. If you sound too excited on the phone, they know that they don’t have to offer you anything more – you’re cheerful voice gave it all away.
The way to win negotiations is to ask for things that would make them sound like a jerk for not giving. I always recommend keeping your salary increase requests under $5,000. You’re much more likely to walk away with a $3,000 increase than a $10,000 increase, and if you ask for too large of an amount, they’ll assume $3,000 won’t appease you, so they won’t bother offering anything. You’ll get the “take it or leave it” response. You may want to toss out the idea of a signing bonus if a salary increase seems unlikely. The benefit to the employer is that they can make the offer more attractive without committing to a higher salary, which would impact future raises. Suggest that a signing bonus could bring the salary more in line with your expectations, and give you a year to prove yourself before your first review.
Also consider the value of benefits. If insurance doesn’t start right away, ask for a bonus to cover your COBRA expenses. Typically large companies cannot sway on stock awards or other points of the standardized benefits package, but why not ask for extra vacation – some companies will give it.
The key is to stay in your power. They made you an offer, so you know they want you. If you turn it down, they likely don’t have a backup candidate and will need to start the entire recruiting process all over again – not an appealing prospect to overworked corporate staff. You won’t get anything if you don’t ask – so try it – you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get more, and how much your new employer will respect you for being bold.
Add comments to the blog about your negotiation wins and fears.