10 Tips for Negotiating a Job Offer

Whether you’re a job-seeker or employer, eventually your career will lead you to being on one side or the other of negotiating a job offer.

We’ve drawn on our own experience in working with clients and candidates and have polled our colleagues in the industry who have experienced the best and the worst of finalizing a deal.

We’ve compiled these tips to help ensure that everyone wins at the
bargaining table.

1. Consider the Location.

his is a good place for your career and your family in the long run. Employers: Is the candidate firmly rooted where they are? If so, what would make them want to relocate or commute 150 miles a day?

2. Define a realistic (yet enticing) salary.

Take into account the salary differences by geographic region. A region with a lower cost of living won’t command the same salaries as California, the Northeast or Chicago, so accepting a job with a lateral salary (or even a cut) may end up a net gain! Employers: Be realistic about what it would take for the candidate to make a move. Employers (and employees!) should research the market rate for the job so you can entice them with a fair and appealing salary.

3. Evaluate the Perks.

Closely compare your current health coverage, pension, car or car allowance, bonus structure and vacation package to what your future employer is offering. What types of annual increases can you expect? Employers: Know your candidate’s current situation and be ready to compare what you can offer vs. what they have. If your perks fall short, consider a signing bonus or other ways to sweeten the deal.

4. Be Aware of Any Surprises.

How much notice is the employee required to provide when resigning? Are the perks that sweetened the deal during negotiations likely to be there in the long run? Is the incremental increase the employer laid out for you feasible and realistic (and in writing!)? Did the employee really resign after accepting the position or was your offer a negotiating tool for their current job? Is your candidate bound by a non-compete clause from their former employer?

5. Carefully evaluate the offer letter.

If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t count! Make sure everything is specifically laid out, including signing bonuses, relocation packages, incremental increases, benefits (and when they take effect) and company car or auto allowance policies.

6. Be Diligent About Company Stability and Background Checks.

How stable is the company you’re thinking of joining? Acquire financial data and do your research! Employers should, at the very least, check criminal histories and verify degrees earned and previous employment. Many even do drug screens and credit checks. Be thorough now, not surprised later! Make sure your offer letter specifies that the offer is contingent on successful completion of the background check and any other applicable conditions.

7. Consider Whether You Have a Future With This Company and Whether They Have One With You.

Is there anywhere for you to go beyond this current position? The need for a defined career path may vary, depending on where you are in your career. Employer: Is the candidate likely to want to stay for more than just a few years or will he or she need to go elsewhere for better career and earnings potential?

8. Keep the Tone Positive.

Ensure that the tone during negotiations remains positive. Candidates should think realistically about what they want and what they need to make this career move. Consider what concessions you’d make and where you can’t budge by making a list of reasonable items to expect. Asking for anything unreasonable during negotiations may sour the deal completely. For employers, there’s no place to go following a lowball offer. Credibility is tarnished and the candidate is disenchanted with the company.

9. How Valuable is This Position to the Organization?

How important is this job in the big scheme? Evaluate what you want on the basis of how specialized your skills and experience are and how the job plays into the company’s bottom line. Employers: Consider the big picture. Is the job critical enough to the organization that there’s flexibility (in compensation and other negotiating points) to ensure that you can hire the right person?

10. Consider the Human Side.

Consider whether this is a boss you’d like to work for and if he or she leaves, whether you like the job and the organization enough to be happy. Employers: Is this person the right fit for the company and for the job? Will they be challenged enough (or TOO challenged), get along with colleagues, make a positive impact on the organization and want to stay for more than a few years?

Negotiating the right deal that benefits everyone is hard work! If you’re a job seeker, know your worth, pay attention to the details of the offer and consider whether this job is a personal and professional fit. Finally, keep the tone during negotiations positive, professional and realistic.

If you’re an employer, try to be aware up front of how much you can and can’t do to attract the right talent. A little flexibility might turn a “dead deal” into a “done deal.” Do thorough background checks (your recruiter can usually provide these services), determine how this individual fits into the organization and promise what you can deliver.

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