Friday Forum – Can I Negotiate My Salary When I Get a Job Offer?

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Happy Friday and Welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday we take a question submitted by one of our users and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage members of the Need a New Gig community to comment below and give their take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Patricia asks:

“I have been interviewing for a position that I think could be a perfect fit for my background.  Yesterday the employer called and offered me the position, but the offer was a little lower than what I was anticipating.  I disclosed my current compensation on the application, and the offer was not much higher than my current pay.  I am now contemplating if it is worth making a switch, as I was really hoping for an increase in pay.  Can I negotiate what they offered me and ask for more money?  If so, what is the best way to go about it?” 

This is a great question because this situation happens more often then you’d think.  I see it happen time and time again where a candidate is super excited about an opportunity, and then the offer comes in low and the wind is taken out of their sails.  Try to stay positive!  You have to remember that the employer wants you.  Some companies may initially come in with a lower offer because they are instructed by upper management to try and save a few bucks. For certain jobs, such as sales positions, companies may purposely come in low to see your negotiating skills.  No matter what, I always recommend negotiating.  It can be an uncomfortable situation or conversation, but it can also dictate if this opportunity and organization is for you.  Follow these three steps to help with the process.

Prepare

Preparation is key when it comes to negotiating your salary on a job offer.  First off, you have to ask yourself what you would need in order to take the position.  You should already have a general idea of your salary expectations, but it is a good idea to think about this particular role.  You also want to identify what is important to you.  Is this opportunity everything you ever wanted?  It’s a good idea to think about your priorities and how they align with this position.  Make a pros and cons list and weigh the current offer.  After review, come up with a bottom line number in which you would accept the position.

Once you have decided on a number, it is time to define your strategy.  You want to come up with reasons that can reinforce why you are looking for the increase.  Here are some common reasons that I have seen in the past:

  • longer commute
  • current compensation package
  • specific experience
  • credentials/certifications
  • education/advanced degree
  • growth opportunities at current employer
  • benefits you will be losing from past employer

Mark down some good talking points and recruit someone for a trial run.  Since negotiating can be awkward and uncomfortable, practicing can definitely help.  After running through it a few times you, will gain confidence and be ready.

Once you are prepared, reach out and ask to review your offer.

Negotiate

First off, make sure that you are negotiating with the right person.  Even if your offer was delivered by someone in HR they may not be the one coming up with the numbers.  Typically, the Hiring Manager is the person to talk with.  Second, be sure to check your emotions.  Remember that this is about business.  Try your best to not be worried, scared, nervous, overly confident, etc.

Start out the conversation by thanking them for the offer and be sure to reiterate your interest.  Let them know that you are very excited about the opportunity, but you were really hoping for a little more in salary.  Here is an example:

“Good Morning John.  First off, thank you so much for the job offer!  I am excited about the opportunity, and I really feel like this could be a great fit for me.  I did have a couple of questions so I wanted to reach out.  Do you know if you have any flexibility on the salary by chance?  I was really hoping for a little more, since it would be a further commute.”

It is best to ask questions as opposed to making demands.  Use your reasons, but try to keep the focus on them.  Remind them that they would benefit from having you.  Be sure to be concise and to the point.  Don’t dance around the question.  Ask your questions and wait for them to respond.

If they ask for your bottom line number, don’t hesitate to provide it.  If the position doesn’t meet your needs and salary requirements, then don’t be afraid to decline it.  They could be doing you a favor and there may be a better opportunity out there.  If they don’t ask for your bottom line number, then there is no need to disclose it.  There is always a chance that they could come back with more than you were expecting!

Follow up

Once you have decided to accept or decline the offer, it is good measure to send a follow up note.  If the employer was open to increasing your salary and you have accepted the offer, be sure to send the Hiring Manager a note and thank them.  Let them know that you really appreciate the increased salary and that you are very excited to join the team.

If you don’t get as much movement on compensation as you’d like, don’t forget that there are other things that you may be able to negotiate, including vacation time, schedule, bonus, etc.  Take a look at our 7 Things To Negotiate Besides Salary.

If you decide to decline the offer, it is still a good idea to send a quick follow up note.  Let them know that you really appreciated their time, and that you enjoyed meeting with them.  Tell them to reach out if they ever have more flexibility on salary, or if a different role becomes available that may better fit your range.

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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