How to Negotiate a Job Offer in 10 Steps
Negotiating salary is tricky business. You’re nervous about asking for more, while the hiring manager is eager to fill the position with the right person without overextending company finances. Use these ten salary negotiation strategies to negotiate a job offer that will benefit both parties.
1. Don’t start until you have the offer in writing.
You should only be negotiating salary if you have a copy of the package in hand. If you get a call offering you the position but haven’t received an official proposal yet, respond with, “Thank you for this opportunity! I look forward to going through the details laid out in a written offer.”
2. Do your research.
Before deciding how to negotiate a job offer, you must first evaluate what salary and/or benefits you need, as well as the many factors influencing your leverage and the employer’s budget. Gather your findings in the salary negotiation prep worksheet. This way, you can easily keep negotiations focused on what’s most important to you.
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3. Know what you bring to the table.
If you want to negotiate a better wage, you should know why you deserve that pay jump. What unique skills, industry expertise, or situation-specific knowledge do you offer that will greatly benefit this organization? Prepare these value props ahead of time and be ready to pull them out when the employer asks for the reasoning behind your request for a better package.
4. Write, revise, and practice your script.
Whether you approach the hiring manager verbally or through email, build your script well in advance. Don’t only think about what you’ll say if things go your way—make some backup plans in case the employer takes some convincing. Have a friend or family member review it to ensure you strike the right tone. After that, it’s all about practice, practice, practice!
5. Be confident.
If you’re visibly nervous walking into the negotiation, your body language says two things: (1) you don’t truly believe you deserve a stronger offer, and (2) you won’t push the issue if they refuse to improve the salary. Confidence shows that you know you can do more for the business than the current proposal suggests.
6. Be enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm reassures the hiring manager that you are truly interested the position and it’s worth their while to spend some time negotiating pay. If they don’t believe that you’re sincerely considering accepting, they will be unmotivated to work with you and may simply refuse to compromise so they can move on to the next candidate.
7. Understand the other person’s position.
The resources available for your compensation hinge on the company’s revenue, dependence on your role, and several other factors. Familiarize yourself with the employer to get a better idea of how much flexibility there is in your package. This can also affect your salary negotiation strategies—for example, you may be more successful aiming for some extra vacation time than a boost in salary for positions at small businesses.
8. Use silence to your advantage.
One of the many salary negotiation strategies experts recommend is just stop talking. State your case, propose the increased salary, and then wait quietly. Even if the silence begins to feel awkward or uncomfortable, let the other person speak first. If you speak before you receive a reply, you risk losing your position of strength.
9. Know when to push and when to back off.
You’re only going to alienate the hiring manager if you keep insisting on something they can’t give you. If the salary is fixed, aim for your top preferred benefits to make up the difference. If the employer won’t budge on anything, then you’ve probably maxed out their resources. If you’ve tried to negotiate a few times and the other person seems resistant, it’s time to stop.
10. Be professional – even if you decline the offer.
This is a good rule for the entire job search process, but especially for salary negotiation. Professionalism includes your dress, body language, and speech. You never know what other companies a potential employer is connected to, so don’t give them the opportunity to say anything negative about you. Plus, if you return to this business for a future opening, you'll be glad you didn't burn those bridges.
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Once you’ve employed the above salary negotiation strategies, don’t be surprised if the hiring manager needs to take some time to process your request. Simply state your appreciation and wait for their response. You’re well on your way to optimizing your employment package!
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