I can remember as a kid, when my brothers or I would ask our parents for something and were denied, they would say, “It’s not what you ask for, it is how you ask for it!” My children will attest they heard the same thing as they were growing up. When it comes to negotiating a job offer, this still applies.
The negotiating process starts from the very beginning of the interview process. Before your first interview you need to be very well prepared by researching and knowing all you can about the employer, their culture and the position. This will help you understand how to sell the value you will bring when you are added to their team. Once the interview process starts, it is critical to be personable and likeable in your presentation and interview. There is an old sales adage that, “People buy from people they like.” When it comes to hiring, it is much the same–people hire people they like. You want each person that you interview with to be in your corner and want you as a team member. Likewise, it is critical for you to convey your excitement and desire for the position and to work with them individually and collectively.
When you reach the final phase and it is time to discuss your compensation, be prepared to honestly discuss your present (or most recent) compensation package in detail. Break it down into your base salary, bonus or commission and other perks that are applicable such as a car allowance or company car, stock options, vacation and medical benefits. Invariably, item by item there will be some differences in your present/previous compensation package verses the new offer. Be sure to weigh the entire compensation package and not dissect the new offer line by line. As a warning, do not embellish any aspect of your total compensation package. More and more companies will ask for your most recent W-2. Also, keep in mind that the companies usually have a salary grade or range for the given position so be sure your expectations are realistic and justifiable.
Be sure to know where you can compromise and where you can’t give ground. If you are willing to show your willingness to compromise, it will demonstrate to the employer that you want to be part of their team and indicates the type of teammate you will be once onboard. Try not to “draw a line in the sand” and remember there are often different ways to reach your goal of a fair compensation package. Some possible options could be a timely review, a sign-on bonus or an additional week of vacation to help reach the desired and fair result to close the deal.
Finally, keep the door open. If you have successfully made a positive impression and built trust and confidence with the hiring manager and their team, give them the opportunity to come back to you. It happens often!
Richard Heard has been a technical recruiter with Godshall since 1991. He specializes in manufacturing management, engineering and technical placements. Richard is ASA certified as a Technical Services Professional and a Certified Staffing Professional. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Management and Marketing from the University of South Carolina. In his free time, Richard loves spending his time with his wonderful children, new granddaughter and family. He is an avid fisherman with an emphasis on freshwater trout and redfish.