Written By: Marc Belaiche, CA
If you are about to receive an offer of employment, congratulations! You will need to know how to negotiate an offer of employment. How the offer is negotiated will reveal a lot about both you and the organization, and it will also set the tone for the future employee-employer relationship.
This article covers some tips for job seekers to consider when negotiating an offer of employment.
Generally, salary and terms of employment are discussed verbally prior to the written offer. Discussing these points early during the early stages of the interviewing phase will save time and require less negotiating later on in the process.
No need to accept the first offer
Generally, when organizations make an offer they expect some terms will be up for negotiation. In anticipation of this, some organizations may offer a lower salary in their initial offer so that they have room to negotiate later if required.
Who has the leverage?
You have more leverage in negotiations if conditions such as the following exist:
- you’re the only candidate available for this position;
- your skill set is difficult to find;
- the organization has been looking to fill the position for a long time; and/or
- the organization is anxious to get the position filled quickly.
The organization has the leverage if the reverse of the above exists. Use what you know to your advantage if necessary, but be careful not to push too hard in your negotiations if you don’t have the leverage.
Consideration should also be given to the company’s size, the labour market and overall economic conditions before asking for too many concessions.
Be clear/explain your reasons
Be clear on what you are looking for and be prepared to explain the reasons for your requests. For example, if you feel that the salary is too low, salary surveys can help back up your salary preference.
How anxious are you?
Does the position being offered have all the components you’ve always wanted? Have you been looking for a long time? If so, you may not want to push the negotiations too much.
On the other hand, if you’re not overly interested in the opportunity, don’t go through the motions of a long negotiation process and waste everyone’s time if you’re just looking for an excuse to walk away.
Leave emotions out of it
If a company hasn’t accepted your requests, don’t assume they’re not interested in hiring you. It’s not necessarily personal – for various reasons management may have limited flexibility in its ability to negotiate the terms of the offer.
Make it win-win
Consider both sides when negotiating – not just your own. Ask the employer questions so that you can understand their position.
Use a recruiter
Ask an independent third party recruiter to review the offer and provide suggestions on the negotiations. This objective professional advice from a recruiter will help you to negotiate the best possible offer. It’s important to understand the agreement and to ask for clarification if anything is unclear.
Hire a lawyer to review the offer
Having an employment lawyer review the offer will provide peace of mind regarding any possible legalities. An experienced lawyer should be able to review the agreement and provide independent legal advice within a day or two. Once you have this feedback, any concerns should be communicated to the organization making the offer.
Assume that all terms are negotiable
Salary may be the most common item up for negotiation, but there are other areas to consider including: start date, timing of salary/performance review, job description/responsibilities, length of probationary period, hours of work, start of benefits (i.e., waiting period/no waiting period), car allowance, vacation pay, bonus, sick days, and termination payouts/exit strategy. If something is important to you, make sure to ask.
Get it in writing
Many contracts have clauses indicating that the employment offer is the entire agreement. As such, make sure that any verbal promises or other statements made by the organization regarding your employment are included in the employment offer.
Monitor the organization’s response
You should pay attention to how the organization responds to your negotiation attempts – is it professional, timely, indifferent or other? If your negotiating points aren’t taken seriously, it may indicate that the employer is not as interested in you as you hoped. If the employer doesn’t budge on anything, it may set the tone for the rest of your employment. How they respond also provides insight as to how the organization conducts business.
Maintain a positive and professional attitude during the negotiations. How you conduct yourself with your potential employer during this process will say much about you – your style, and how you might work with other employees or stakeholders. If you are negative or unprofessional, be aware that the employer could withdraw the offer.
Take your time
Typically an offer will have a “respond by” date. If you’re still reviewing and not ready to give an answer by the requested date, ask for an extension but explain your reasons. The majority of employers will grant you additional time to review the offer if you explain why more time is needed.
Don’t negotiate piecemeal
Put all your negotiating points on the table in the first round. Don’t come back with new items after the first round unless it’s in response to something the organization has proposed.
Know when to stop
Know when to draw the line on negotiating. Don’t push too much trying to win every requested point since this stance may alienate your future employer. Negotiation shouldn’t typically take more than 2 rounds – use your good judgement and know when to call a halt to the discussions.
Be prepared for the response
Realize that the employer probably won’t give you everything you’re looking for. Typically, the larger the organization, the less negotiation there will be since they have more stringent guidelines on salary ranges, standard benefit plans, etc. that they are obligated to stay within.
Make it personal
During negotiations, emailing your counter points may feel impersonal to the employer, especially if your points are complex or require more detailed explanation. As such, speak with the organization over the phone or in person if the negotiations are more complex.
You’ll have more leverage before you sign the offer than after you start in the new position. Make sure to get everything that is important to you in writing when you’re negotiating an employment offer. Once you’ve accepted the offer, send a thank you note to the organization and reinforce that you’re looking forward to joining the team.
Marc Belaiche is a 1990 CA and is President of TorontoJobs.ca, an internet recruitment business and recruiting firm located in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. Marc has been in the recruitment industry since 1995. TorontoJobs.ca allows companies to post their positions online, search a resume database to find candidates, provides outplacement services and full temporary and permanent recruitment services. It also allows candidates to search and apply to positions directly online and get career, interviewing and resume tips all at no charge. Marc is also President of TorontoEntrepreneurs.ca, an organization geared towards business owners (see www.TorontoEntrepreneurs.ca). You can reach Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out www.TorontoJobs.ca.