10 Tips to Negotiate a Better Job Offer

It's going to take some practice but here's how you can become an expert negotiator.

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Salary negotiations are no walk in the park and there are so many ways they could pan out: Imagine you’re on the crux of getting your dream job and the hiring manager says, ‘Well, we usually don’t hire people with your background, but I’m sure you can learn on the go.’ With just one simple (but strategic) statement, the hiring manager has thrown you off and left little space for negotiations.

At the other end of the spectrum, perhaps everything has gone well but you just can’t quite figure out if you’re supposed to negotiate your salary or not. You don’t want to weaken your value by not negotiating but are also unsure if there’s room for negotiation in the first place.

In either of these cases, we have ten tips to help you along at this crucial junction.

1. Be likeable from the get go

As obvious (and arbitrary) as this sounds, do not underestimate the power of likeability. Be polite, smile, and do not look too greedy. Little things will add up to champion your cause more than you’d realise. Before hiring processes are completely taken over by bots – being pleasant will do wonders and leave hiring managers more likely to agree to your terms!

2. Research before the interview

Study the industry, the company, and your job title before your big day. You should have a ballpark figure ready. Connect with current and ex-employees on LinkedIn. Ask them about their hiring process and experience. You should collect as much information as possible – an experienced recruiter would be able to see through half-baked knowledge.

3. Pay attention during the interview

Be attentive and absorb every single detail the hiring manager divulges during your interview. Quoting a number or an incident narrated by them in your negotiation will work in your favor. If you’re negotiating for a better salary – look out for any mention of the salary break up and increments. Likewise, if you’re negotiating for a higher designation, look out for any mention of the role and responsibilities.

4. When to negotiate

This is arguably the most important in the list. Do not negotiate before you’ve been handed an official offer. Getting ahead of yourself and negotiating during the hiring process can be quite off putting and tactless. Most recruiters expect some pushback, so they would normally give you ample time to collect your thoughts and put forth your expectation and requirements.

5. Ultimatums are a no-go

Nobody likes threats. ‘Subtly’ telling your recruiter that you have multiple offers (or better offers) will only decrease your chances of getting your desired deal. The recruiter might also get the impression that you’re not as committed to the job offer, so they’re less likely to jump through hoops to get you a better deal.

6. Negotiating is not a disadvantage 

Negotiations are part and parcel of the job hunt, you’re not killing your chances if you negotiate. The very fact that you’ve been offered a job is ample proof that they want you, so play your cards right.

7. Focus on the intent, not the question

Sometimes the recruiter’s question is challenging but the intent is benign. An employer who asks whether you would immediately accept an offer tomorrow may simply be interested in knowing if you’re genuinely excited about the job, and not intend to put you on the spot. If you don’t like the question, don’t assume the worst. Ask, clarify, and ask more - if you engage in a genuine conversation about what they’re after, and show a willingness to help them resolve whatever issue they have, both of you will be better off.

8. Understand their constraints

Smaller companies may have certain ironclad constraints, such as salary caps, that no amount of negotiation can loosen. Your job is to figure out where they’re flexible and where they’re not. They might not offer you a higher pay, but could be flexible on start dates, vacation time, and signing bonuses. Don’t let your inflexibility be the reason you miss out on a great employee benefit package. A better offer is not equal to a better pay. Sometimes the perks more than make up for a lower salary.

9. Make your intent of working for them very clear

Show them that you’re really excited about the job and would love to work in that company. Early signs of conceived loyalty will make the recruiter vouch for you to whoever decides the final terms of the job offer.

10. Explain why you’re asking for a revised offer

Don’t just say you want a 15% increase in salary – explain why. Tell them why you’re worth that extra 15% and back it up. Ultimately, your job satisfaction depends less on getting the negotiation right and more on getting the job right.

Jason Reich
Co-Founder | TalentSpace

Jason is a co-founder of TalentSpace, where he keeps himself up at night thinking of new and innovative ways to make recruiting an enjoyable and fruitful experience for everyone. He's worked on the international expansion of US-startups, Casper and HotelTonight (acquired by Airbnb), and was also on the Value Creation team of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's VC, Innovation Endeavors. He graduated from Bocconi University.

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