How to Negotiate a Job Offer

A manager shakes hands with a new employee

So, you got the job. Congratulations! All those hours of perfecting your resume and preparing for interviews have finally paid off. But you’re not quite done yet. Before you accept the offer, you need to make sure you’re starting the new position on your terms.

When an organization presents you with an offer, they are also presenting you with an opportunity to negotiate your starting compensation, benefits, and other perks. If you don’t feel like the offer aligns with your education, knowledge, and/or experience, it might be time to consider a negotiation.

Although it may sound intimidating at first, most employers expect candidates to negotiate their offer in some way, shape, or form. In fact, not doing so may negatively impact a candidate’s lifelong earning potential. 

“For example, if the average U.S. annual salary increase is 3% and you accept a starting salary that is 10% below your expectations, it could take over two years just to regain those earnings,” writes the editorial team at Indeed.com.

Knowing how—and when—to negotiate an offer is a skill that requires patience and practice. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you approach this stage in the hiring process.

1. Consider the whole package, not just the salary.

While the salary is often the most important component of a new offer package, it’s also important to evaluate other factors such as retirement and healthcare plans, paid time off, and opportunities for remote work. 

“Learn to negotiate everything you are offered, including (if applicable) a higher salary, more vacation, better benefits, higher commission payout, and revenue share.” advises Codie Sanchez, Managing Partner at Entourage Effect Capital.

Doing so will also help you develop a better idea of benefits, culture, and work environment you seek in an ideal job.

2. Do your research beforehand.

If you plan to negotiate your salary, you’ll need a good starting point, especially if the new role is vastly different from your current one. It’s a good idea to research industry average salaries before presenting your salary expectations to a potential employer.

Remember that salary should always be commensurate with geographic location and experience.

3. Know exactly what you’re worth.

While basic research will help you understand the job’s value, it’s equally important to know and communicate your value to a company.

“Focus on the value you bring and how it translates to dollars for the company,” says Lisa Song-Sutton, Co-Founder of Sin City Cupcakes.

Be prepared to present specific examples of your past accomplishments as well as projects you hope to tackle in your new role. 

4. Use other offers to your advantage.

If you’re deciding between multiple job offers or even a counteroffer from your current employer, make it clear that you’re in demand. While you should never lie about an offer to another employer, you should be open about the fact that other companies also value you—and how much they value you.

“As a CEO, I don’t pay much attention to what the market, economy, your industry or your education “should” fetch you as a means to get you higher pay,” explains Beck Bamberger, CEO of BAM Communications. “The most powerful negotiating lever is another offer.”

Know your next move.

In an ideal situation, your future employer will meet every one of your expectations. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

Whether you’re negotiating an offer verbally or via email, it’s important to prepare yourself for questions and compromise. Think about what is most important to you in a new job and set your boundaries accordingly. 

When communicating with a potential employer, be clear about your expectations but don’t be inflexible. Ask questions about company culture, career trajectory, and other factors that matter to you.

If, after all is said and done, you are unsatisfied with the details of an offer, it may be time to consider other offers or go back to the drawing board.

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