Job Offers and Salary Negotiation

A job search is not a race to find the first job you can get. You have to find the right job for you. At some point, you will need to evaluate a job offer or multiple job offers to decide on your future plans. This is an important decision in both your career and your life. Therefore it should be approached carefully.

It is common practice among many companies to give you a written employment offer. If not, request one. Make sure that the employment offer includes all of the details for the position such as compensation, status, work hours, benefits, and time off. This will help your comparison if you have multiple offers and reduce any misunderstanding on the terms and conditions of your employment.

During the interview process, it’s likely that you’ll have some discussion of salary. Some companies may ask you to submit your salary history or requirements, while others may informally ask about your expectations. In general, you’ll want to be sure you have a good understanding of the position and its responsibilities before you make any commitments about your salary expectations. For this reason, we recommend that you postpone any salary discussions to the later stages of the interview process. If you are asked about salary before you have a clear answer, always give a salary range, not a specific number. Note that it will depend on many factors, including learning more about the responsibilities and expectations of the position as well as the benefits offered.

The offer and negotiation process is different for every job. You should consider the salary and benefits package as a whole. It may not always be appropriate to compare one job against another based on salary alone. You will want to assess what benefits are crucial and which ones you might be able to forego.

Some jobs, like those in unions or government, may have very specific pay grades and benefits packages with very little room for negotiation. Some companies may offer a salary increase after you complete a probationary period and prove yourself.

Before entering a negotiation, you may want to consider the relationship that could result with your potential employer. Remember that while you have the right to refuse an offer, an employer can also withdraw an employment offer.

  • Research - Probably the most important part of the negotiation is research. Find out what similar positions pay. You can find this information by searching online job listings. Make sure you are comparing the same jobs, not just job titles, as those can vary widely from company to company. Talk to colleagues in your field or people in the same job to get an idea of the position’s market value.
  • Know what you want – Be sure to negotiate on the basis of what is most important to you, whether these are benefits, flexibility, job title, or money. Let them know what matters most and what tradeoffs you are willing to make. This will help you reach an agreement more quickly.
  • Be upfront with your options – If you have multiple offers, but really want to work with one company, let the employer know that they are your number one choice and express willingness to negotiate a win-win situation with them.
  • Consider extras – Some employers may not have a lot of room for negotiation when it comes to salary, but they may be willing to offer benefits and perks such as additional time off, parking allowance, flex time, etc.
  • Focus on value, not need – Too many people focus the discussion on what they used to earn or what they feel they need to earn to maintain their lifestyle. These aren’t really relevant from an employer’s perspective. Instead, focus the negotiation on the value you will bring to the organization. The more quantifiable you make that, the better.
  • It’s more than just money – Sometimes, you may have to take a pay cut for the right opportunity. If the position offers you the chance to learn cross-functional areas in your field of practice that will take you years to get in the door at other companies, this may be a rare opportunity that you should not pass up.

The best indicator of a successful salary negotiation is that it results in a win-win situation for you and your future employer. It’s important that both sides feel like winners and are excited to begin the new relationship.

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