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11 Ways to Negotiate your Best Job Offer

Does this sound familiar? You’ve crafted a quality resume; you get an interview, and the next thing you know, you’re being offered the job! You’re so excited that you been chosen that you blurt out “Yes! I’ll take it!” before you even know the details of employment contract? It’s all too familiar to me, so I’m not surprised by the statistic that 49% of job candidates never negotiate their initial job offer. I used to belong in that statistic. First of all, I had this silly notion that job negotiation was something you did at the executive level and secondly I didn’t know how to go about it. It seemed too risky, and I was afraid it would end up in a retracted offer. I remember feeling so grateful for receiving a job offer in the first place that I wouldn’t have dared to ask. I get it. I get why so many people don’t do it. Negotiating is intimidating. For some, it comes naturally, and it's no problem broaching the subject with their new employer. For me, it was petrifying. I would literally break out in a sweat thinking about it. It wasn’t until I received an offer that I felt compelled to negotiate, that I forced myself to get comfortable with it. I have had to change my attitude and my assumptions around job offers and negotiating. How? Knowledge and practice. I read as many articles as I could on it, and started negotiating myself into better contracts. With some practice, I found that it’s not as intimidating as I first thought. Today, I want to share some knowledge about job negotiation with you. You’ll find that negotiating doesn’t have to be painful and in the end if done right, you can get that job (and package) you deserve!

Put it In Perspective

If you knew that 45% of companies were willing to negotiate, and four out ten were expecting you to ask, would you still feel it’s too risky? Salary negotiation is an accepted and expected part of the hiring process. Provided you are professional and polite (which I know you are because you got the job offer) and what you’re asking for is well researched and reasonable, asking to discuss the terms of your contract will not result in an offer retraction. Change your mindset and think of it this way. If you were buying a house, wouldn’t you attempt to get the best deal you could? The seller is certainly expecting it. Will they agree to your counter offer? Maybe, maybe not but they’re open to discussing it. Organizations are the same. They’re not going to think poorly of you. They’re probably going to believe you’re a business savvy professional. Also, they have spent substantial time (and money) recruiting for the position, you’re their number one choice, they want to work with you. The worse you’ll get is a no, you’ll get a reason, and it’s back in your hands to accept or deny.

Don’t Negotiate For the Sake of it

I’ve done some compensation negotiation in my day, and I’ve come across a few candidates who ask for more without having a solid rationale for why they deserve it. They’re negotiating for the sake of it. An organization can identify this tactic quickly, and it usually results in a no followed by some raised eyebrows. Sometimes, you don’t need to negotiate if the offer is fair, competitive and rational. Before I think about negotiating a job offer, I always ask myself the following:

  1. Is the offer competitive, reasonable and does it make sense to me? Your job offer should make sense to you. It shouldn’t confuse you and looking at it shouldn’t make you feel sick inside. The offer should align with industry standards, your experience, education, accreditations and in general what you discussed you could bring to the table. If the offer is coming way out of left field, I get ready to negotiate.

  2. Am I taking everything into account: I used to be all about the dollar and cents, and I’d get caught up on the salary number. No question, it’s important. You shouldn’t accept a salary that is way below what you deserve but are you taking into account the total compensation package. Do they provide work-life balance in the form of flexible scheduling and paid time off? Do they offer extra vacation time? Sick pay? Do they provide a quality benefits plan? Do you get company perks like free services or substantial discounts? There is more to an offer than the money. Sometimes, the extras can add up, and you’re getting more than you think you are.

When I look at these two things and come to the conclusion that the offer is built on a solid rationale and most of all I’m happy with it. Then I accept it. One thing, I’ve come to understand is that there needs to be room for growth and progression in your new role. I’ve learned to be reasonable in what I’m asking for too. Don’t ask for more because you think you have to, only when you feel compelled to.

So what if you decide you need to go for a better offer. Now what. Where do you start and what should you do? First things first, you got take emotion out of the equation.

Take Emotion Out of the Picture

Negotiating your job contract is an emotional thing. Not being offered what you feel you deserve can be a hard pill to swallow. For some of us, it’s hard to take, and it bruises the ego. It can make us defensive, and we can get an attitude. This is not a good head space to be in when you ask to negotiate; you still want the job right? Don’t let hurt feelings damage future relations with your new employer. Don’t take it personally. It’s an initial offer, not a final offer. Take it as a challenge to prove them wrong and get ready to negotiate.

Getting Prepared

When I prepare for a negotiation, I make sure that I know exactly what I want, why I want it and why I think I deserve it. Successful negotiation starts with facts. It is not convincing to say “you feel you deserve more.”

Do your Research

What are other professionals in your position, with similar experience, education and comparable geography making? Employers research this information to build their compensation model and it's a good way for you to understand how your offer was put together. Collecting this information is also a great way for you to come to an exact salary number to counter offer with. I love Payscale. You can look up tons of positions in different cities to get salary statistics including bonuses and profit share information.

Build your Case

You have to have a rationale for why you’re asking for more. List out exactly why you’re so valuable and what you’re bringing to the table. Know your achievements and results at other organizations and sell how you’ll directly benefit the organization.

Think Out of the Box

Hey, let’s be realistic. Companies want to be cost effective, and they want you, but they want you at a reasonable price. You may not be able to get them to budge on the money. What else do you want if they can’t offer you dollars? Think total compensation package. Go for job flexibility, time off or an early salary review. You just may find you’ll have more success there.

Know When Negotiations are Over

Don’t beat a dead horse. If you counter and they come back with an improved offer, be wary of going back to the watering hole too many times. If you have agreed to terms, it's bad etiquette to try to renegotiate those terms again. If you get shut down on a term, stop and move on to another area.


If you’ve read any of my other blog posts you know I’m not a big fan of winging it. I used to a wingnut. I would just go for it, and most of the time I would leave a conversation kicking myself in the ass because I didn’t say everything I wanted to say. You need to practice. Know how you’re going to lead into the discussion, which points you want to talk about first, and most of all practice speaking with authority and confidence.

Play it Smart

Be honest, be genuine and don’t play games. Never make up fictitious offers hoping to scare the organization into giving you what you want. You may just play yourself out of the role. Also, don’t get caught up in trying to be such a great negotiator that you come off like the money is more important than the role. Employers don’t respond well to that.

Have a Plan

Rejection sucks. But you need to be prepared to hear no. Have a plan for yourself and think of the outcomes. Are you going to accept regardless of what happens? Are you prepared to walk away if you don't get what you want? Reflect on these scenarios and know what you’re going to do.

Negotiation is simply a conversation. It doesn't have to be complicated. Remember if you don't ask, you don't receive. If the idea of having to start this conversation is getting you nervous, remind yourself that many organizations are ready and waiting for you to ask and are willing to work with you to get to a place where you're both happy. You have nothing to lose! Get to doing some research, learn as much as you can about becoming a strong negotiator and practice.

Now show that job offer who's boss!

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Next Week: Back to Basics: The Top 10 Resume Mistakes

Photo Credits: GDP


JC Halfkenny is CV Boss. With over 20 years of recruitment experience she has reviewed thousands of resumes and hired hundreds in various industries such as manufacturing, spa and wellness, finance, retail and aviation. As an experienced recruiter, she knows the secret of resume writing lies in knowing precisely what to put in, precisely what not to put in, and exactly what kind of a spin to put on a resume, to ensure it will stand out from the crowd.

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