Published on March 27th, 2012 | by Kailei Carr1
5 Tips in Negotiating Your Next Job Offer
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my career, it’s that you always negotiate a job offer. Though the statistics are improving, women still do not negotiate job offers as much as men, which can lead to pay disparities and leaving money and other benefits on the table. So, if you’re uncomfortable or uneasy about negotiating, let me tell you a story that may change your mind.
When I was in my last year of my MBA program, I received a job offer from a company that recruited on campus. They gave me an offer letter that included the details of my package: a pretty decent salary, a nice bonus that I would receive once I started, and vacation time that would start the first full calendar year after my employment. In looking at the offer, I thought that it was pretty decent – especially the salary, considering I was going into a field that typically does not pay very well. I shared the offer letter with my father (mind you, my father negotiates contracts for a living), and he gave me a list of items to request:
– Gross up the bonus so that my net would be the gross amount rather than getting killed by taxes. Also ask for half of the bonus to be given once the offer letter is signed and the second half upon starting the job.
– A house hunting trip for a weekend with lodging, car rental, and airfare covered by the company.
– Pay for closing costs for the house that I owned (I had a rental property in another city that I would need to sell).
– Two weeks of vacation in the remainder of the calendar year (I was starting in August) with full vacation time to begin in the first full calendar year.
I took his advice and wrote up a nice, eloquent letter including all of these requests and, also from my father’s advice, shared my requests with two executive within the organization who had been advocates for me as a gut check to make sure I wasn’t asking for anything too wild or crazy. I submitted the email as is, figuring, there is no way they’re going to say yes to everything. I figured even if I got half, I would be in good shape. To my surprise, they gave me EVERYTHING. Yes, everything! I could not believe it. And they also gave everything I asked for to the other person they hired at the same time as me to be fair (mind you, he did not negotiate at all). Needless to say, I learned a lot from that experience, so I wanted to give you a few things to consider the next time you are negotiating a job offer:
1. Always negotiate. You are worth it! I once had a female boss who said that she only respected people who negotiate their salaries. Don’t leave on the table what could be yours .
2. Give and get everything in writing. When you are negotiating a job offer, send them any changes you are requesting in writing before you meet with them so that they have had time to review and react to anything you’ve requested prior to your meeting. Make sure anything that is modified in your package is captured in writing so that you can keep for your records.
3. Beware of the bonus. Many companies would rather give you a bonus instead of a higher salary. It may sound good up front, but you may have a tough time getting to the salary you want with incremental annual increases (which, by the way, are not guaranteed). Remember that the best time to negotiate your salary is before you start your job.
4. But it’s not only about the salary. Think about other things to ask for whether more vacation time, higher bonus potential, house hunting trips, etc. This is especially important if you feel like your salary is consistent with industry standards and what you want and need.
5. Know when to say when. You don’t want to start off your time with your new employer on the wrong foot. Or, worse yet, you don’t want them to be so turned off by the negotiation that they rescind the offer. Be professional and kind in your approach and, if possible, run it by a confidant within the organization (though I would not disclose your salary).