Monday, December 29, 2008

Don't Forget That Even in This Job Market, You Can Still Negotiate a Job Offer

If you've ever been out of work, you know the feeling when the job offer finally comes. You want to scream, cry, kiss the feet of the hiring manager and dance in the streets. You're a wild mix of emotions and yet it's never been more important that you think clearly and put your brain in charge.

It's time to negotiate.

Now, some people may think that there's no room for negotiation in this job market. But that's what employers want you to think. The truth is, many of them are going to low ball you because they think they can. But if they have gone to the trouble to wade through the resumes they're being bombarded with, if you've risen to the top with all that tough competition out there, then they want you. Really want you.

That gives you some leverage. But the trick in this job market is knowing how to use that to your advantage so that you don't look like an arrogant jerk and start off your new job on the wrong foot. The other point to consider is that you may get a fair offer right off the bat. If you've done your research, you know what you're worth. In that case, you may be very comfortable accepting their initial offer, and everyone shakes on it.

But if you get an offer you believe could use some improvement, it's time to move onto negotiation. If that's the case, here are some things to consider:

* Do your homework. Have your facts and figures in place about what you want. Make a list (in order of importance) of the things that really matter to you -- debating anything else is a waste of time and energy. When the employer tosses out the initial offer, don't be afraid to say: "Is there a chance that you could offer a higher number?" if you know from your research that the salary is not competitive.

* Practice. Just as you would with any presentation, it's important that you make eye contact, have a well-modulated, calm voice and display confident body language. Even if you're negotiating over the phone, your confidence and calm will be evident.

* Be realistic. Things you may have deemed important a year ago may be off your list now. Be realistic about this job market, about the things you really require in order to be happy in the job. If you accept an offer that makes you feel like a martyr then you're going to be miserable in a matter of months -- and be looking for another job. Sure, the employers have more of the power in this market -- but when haven't they? It's a rare case when an employer is willing to give into all of a job candidate's demands.

* Stay strong. If there comes a point in the negotiation that you feel strongly about and the employer appears to have dug in as well, don't rush to concede. Be content to stay silent and see if the employer is willing to speak first -- that usually bodes well for you. Silence can be a very effective tool for getting what you want.

* Take a breath. After concluding your negotiation and agreeing on final points, ask if you can have a day to look it over so that you make sure you review the offer carefully.

What are some other things to consider when negotiating a job offer?

Lijit Search


Anonymous said...

As any candidate (even one who nails every step of the interview) is still of unknown value at offer time, rather than demanding more dollars up front, I'd suggest negotiating for a compensation review 3 months after start date. It shows you're confident you'll perform well, that you're a team player (you understand that it's concerning out there for employers) and that you trust your new employer to reward great on-the-job performance. Everybody wins — which is a good thing, especially in this business climate.

Anita said...

True enough. But I think that the salary you negotiate up front is critical because it is often the most leverage you will have in getting the best pay. Also, even if you ask for a review in several months, that doesn't mean it will happen in this economy with the number of companies freezing wages. In other words, the company may have the best of intentions to reward you later -- but then find they don't have the money to do it.
Still, you've pointed out that you want to make sure it's a win-win for everyone and that you show you understand the tough business climate.
Thanks for your good pointers.

BullsEyeCareers said...

I always appreciate your positive outlook. You not only give people courage to stay positive in the job search, but you remind us that we still have the power to actually negotiate our worth.

Anita said...

Well, thanks for those nice words! Like everyone else, I have to remind myself that just because the economy has gone sour doesn't mean that I've given up control of my life and my career. I know that I haven't lessened in worth, so why let anyone tell me differently? :)

David Benjamin said...

Once again Anita you've given some great information. I've always viewed the negotiations as playing poker. As you mentioned, you've made it to #1 status in your future companies mind. That means they want you and typically will do what it takes to hire you (within reason).

Consult with professionals prior to getting to offer stage. At this point there should be a game plan how to get what you want.

Anita said...

Thanks for mentioning the game plan. Just as you prepared your resume carefully, and prepared for your interview, you need to also do your homework and be prepared for the negotiation.
Great point, thanks.