“We’d like to make you an offer.” No sentence is sweeter to a job-seeker’s ears – and yet, the job offer is only the beginning of the end. You’ll still have to look through what’s being offered, weigh its value against your career goals, and come to an acceptable conclusion with your potential new employer.
If this sounds tough, don’t despair. You’ve established yourself as the company’s number-one choice. By keeping these four things in mind and seeking help when you need it, you can ensure that you receive an acceptable compensation package that will allow you to focus on the work you love.
Here are four things to consider when it’s time to negotiate:
- Don’t settle. Failing to negotiate is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, but it’s surprisingly common. If you dislike negotiating, aren’t sure where to start, or have been searching for a job for a long time, it can be tempting simply to grab what’s offered and run with it. Instead, take the time to consider the offer and to research how competitive it is with offers from similar companies for similar positions. Once you feel reasonably confident about the information you have, consider making a counteroffer.
- Think broadly when it comes to “compensation.” In most jobs, your compensation package will include more than just a paycheck. Health insurance, retirement funding, and other benefits may round out what you’ll receive in exchange for your work. If the salary number is competitive but you still feel under-compensated, consider discussing non-traditional benefits like flex time or telecommuting options. Many employers are willing to negotiate these to get the candidate they want, even if their budget won’t allow a larger salary.
- Talk about your value, not your needs. During negotiations, your potential employer wants the answer to one question: “What’s in this for us?” To make your case for a higher salary or better benefits, talk about the value you offer the company – the value they should “pay” for in terms of improved compensation. While your need to cover your mortgage or student loans might be significant, these goals don’t benefit the company, but your credentials and work ethic do.
- Get it in writing. Once you have a job offer you’re willing to accept, make sure you get the terms of the offer in writing. Review the written terms before you make your final acceptance. Most employers make written job offers as a matter of course, so don’t hesitate to ask for this evidence that both sides understand and accept the agreement you’ve negotiated so carefully.