4 Tips For Negotiating Job Offers
Dear Rich Lifer,
There is a widespread cultural expectation to negotiate your salary. In fact, the staffing firm Robert Half found that 70% of over 2,800 managers surveyed in 2018 expected candidates to negotiate.
Management scholar Deborah Kolb notes that negotiation has become much more common since the 1980s. However, there is a tendency to treat negotiations as narrow, salary-focused conversations rather than the chance to tweak other aspects of the job offer.
Dr. Hamaria Crockett, a career coach with Korn Ferry Advance, advises, “Think about the entire compensation package and not just the pay you’ll be receiving.”
While negotiating has become far more common, it has been another victim of change due to coronavirus. When jobs are even harder to come by, and the economy is in precarious shape, many are thinking twice about hard negotiations.
HR experts say the solution is not to stop negotiating altogether but to take extra time to consider things beyond your salary, make an extra effort to be collegial and enthusiastic, and realize that it is sometimes okay to accept an offer as presented.
Dr. Kolb, professor emerita at Simmons College School of Management: “The world has changed. I’m not sure you can really negotiate salary during a pandemic. But really, salary is so limited. All the things that would make your workday better, that is what you need to negotiate.”
Today, we will walk through some traditional negotiation tips and offer advice on how to cater those tips to this new pandemic work environment.
Do Salary Research
It’s incredibly important to research what your pay should be before you even begin a job search. Take the time to network with others in your field, check public sites like O*Net, Payscale.com, Salary.com and Glassdoor.com.
This way, you will know right off the bat if the salary being offered is comparable to others in your field. These days, recruits are more likely to bring up money at the very beginning of the hiring process.
Because of Covid, Marina Byezhanova, who runs a headhunting firm called Pronexia, notes:
We are transparent about salary range and expectations from the very beginning. So it does end up being surprising if the candidate asks for a lot more at the very end of the process. If you ask for $80,000 when we have been discussing $70,000 all along, that’s not a reasonable request to me.
If you immediately see that the salary being discussed is lower than the industry standard, it’s acceptable to ask how the employer arrived at that figure.
Dr. Crockett recommends saying: “After hearing about the role, it seems like it’s a heavier lift than what you’re offering. How did you come up with that figure?” You can then follow up with, “How much are you willing to negotiate?”
This way both parties can reach an understanding right off the bat, and no one is left feeling blindsided or slighted.
If there is no wiggle room on salary, you could consider asking for a signing bonus as a way to boost your pay. There are many other things to negotiate beyond salary, as we have mentioned a few times now, which brings us to your next tip…
Don’t Get Stuck on Salary
A salary is just one part of an employment package. As a potential employee, you should have a full understanding of all aspects of the job’s benefits from health insurance to retirement benefits to time off.
For example, Liz D’Aloia, who runs an HR consulting firm in Trophy Club, Texas, suggests asking your employer to pay for Cobra benefits if the job does not include health insurance.
If a hard line is clear on salary, ask for more stock options or more vacation days.
And remember, we are still in a pandemic! Make sure you negotiate work flexibility! What will the company’s work-from-home policy be going forward? Is there an opportunity for you to negotiate a hybrid schedule once offices reopen? Does the company allow four-day workweeks or flexible start and end times on the workday?
The Gender Pay Gap in Pandemic Times
Salary negotiations have been increasingly important to women due to the gender pay gap.
Women in the U.S. made about 83% of men’s median weekly earnings in the last quarter of 2020, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report from January.
Therefore, women particularly are feeling the injustice of having to accept jobs for less pay, in a time where salary negotiations are mostly off the table.
One suggestion from the Academy of Management Journal is to negotiate for more leadership authority within the job, which can help alter the long-term trajectory of your career.
In fact, in a 2019 paper, the Academy of Management Journal argued that these types of leadership positions “may do more to close the overall gender pay gap than compensation negotiations that increase pay in a current role.”
Obviously, in the long-term, there needs to be continued and additional emphasis on equal pay as well as leadership positions for women in the workplace. This tip is just a way to point out how positioning within a company can be beneficial to the overall career as well as salary.
The Importance of Soft Skills
Josh Daniel, a Dallas-based career coach with Korn Ferry, reminds us, “The most important part of negotiation is just going to be those intangibles, like rapport, likability and delivery.”
If the negotiation goes well, you’ll soon be working with the person on the other end of the deal, so don’t treat them like an adversary.
Do your best to use mirroring techniques to match the other person’s energy level and language. Obviously, it’s better to do negotiations face-to-face, but that is not really a possibility at the moment,
When it comes to Zoom negotiations, Mr. Daniels suggests amplifying a bit and “increasing your distance from the camera so you can emote better with your shoulders and hands.”
Do your best to convey enthusiasm! Using phrases such as “really excited,” “honored,” or “delighted” about an offer before you bring up higher compensation and specifics as to why you think negotiation is fair.
Try something like this: I would be delighted to accept this position. Given that I would miss out on the year-end bonus due to my start date, would it be possible to revise the offer to include my annual bonus upfront?
Or: I would be honored to work for your team and this organization. I wanted to mention that my current employer provides medical insurance that includes dental coverage, and I understand your company doesn’t cover dental insurance. Because it would cost $2,000 a year to cover dental care for my family, would it be possible to revise the offer to include this amount in my salary?
Once you finalize an agreement, make sure you get everything in writing in an official offer letter, even if you have been negotiating via email already.
Hopefully, these tips can help guide you on your path to career success!
To a Richer Life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team