Congratulations! You've been made a job offer and you're pretty excited.
Before you make an "I quit" cake for your current job and present it in a staff meeting, are you really happy with the offer you've been made? Are they offering you the salary you believe is fair?
Chances are, you weren't made the "best" offer, which makes sense. Why would an employer offer you the highest amount they can pay if they can get you for less? It's a simple business decision, and that's how you need to approach it -- it's business.
The reason I say this is because too many people take a salary offer personally. They think it's some kind of social commentary on their worthiness, along the lines of "that haircut makes you look like a Wookiee."
So, they end up accepting whatever they're offered without even trying to counter (CareerBuilder finds that 56 percent do not negotiate for better pay.) Then, a few months or years down the line they begin to feel they're underpaid. They feel resentful or angry or depressed. That's when they start to job search again.
See where I'm going with this?
It makes much more sense to negotiate your salary when you're made the offer. That way, both you and the employer feel like you're on the same page and begin the working relationship on a good note. Remember this: CareerBuilder finds that 53 percent of employers say they are willing to negotiate salaries on initial job offers and 52 percent say they typically offer a lower salary and are willing to negotiate.
Here's some things to remember:
- Know your worth. Do your research through sites like Salary.com or Glassdoor so that you know the average salary for your position and experience. Make sure you consider regional factors -- salaries are often higher in metropolitan areas than in some less-populated areas.
- Be respectful. This isn't a negotiation on par with establishing peace in the Middle East. This is possibly your future employer, so convey your appreciation for the offer and signal that you'd like time to consider it.
- Get out the calculator. If you don't feel like you're good at taking a steely-eyed look at your expenses, then enlist someone to help you. Consider what you really spend (not what you'd like to believe your spend) and what you need to live comfortably. (Does is really make sense to take a job where money will be so tight that one minor financial issue will upend your world?) Look at things like your rent or mortgage, but also your local and federal taxes and other expenses such as child care, car payments, student loans, etc. Once you get a handle on what you need to really live, you'll have a much better idea of what you need to negotiate.
- Consider the entire offer. Sometimes the base salary is not what you want, but the employer is offering other benefits that improve the overall offer. For example, maybe you only work four days a week, which will cut your child care bill. Or, the health benefits are generous, which will help improve your overall financial picture.
- Perks. Gym memberships, flexible schedules, remote work and tuition reimbursement are all perks that you may consider important enough that you're willing to take less pay if they are offered. Just because they were not offered initially doesn't mean they don't exist -- ask if they're available.
Once you've been made an offer, ask if you can have 24 to 48 hours to consider it so that you can crunch the numbers and talk with your family. Then, be respectful enough of the employer to respond in that time frame.