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Negotiating The Offer

Monday, November 23, 2009

By Brad Karsh, President, JobBound

More money.  Let’s be honest, we all want it.  So how can you get it?

When it comes to negotiating your new job offer, you walk the fine line between coming off like a savvy employee looking to maximize your worth and Greedy Boy.  Don’t be Greedy Boy (or Girl).

Here’s what you do:

1.  Know what you’re worth.
Knowledge is power.  It’s much easier to negotiate if you know where you stand relative to others in your field.  Your first stop should be an online salary calculator.  Also, check with friends and family who may work in your field or at your level.  See what they make. 

Once you have that information in hand, here’s what you might say:

"From the information I’ve pulled from salary surveys, a financial analyst with four years of experience in Cleveland makes between $65,000 - $75,000.  I feel that your offer of $62,000 is low.  Based on my experience and accomplishments, a salary of 70,000 which falls in the middle of the range would be more appropriate."

2.  Think beyond salary.
Salary is sexy.  Salary is brag-worthy.  Salary becomes our obsession. 

Salary may be cool, but the job offer is king.

Often, companies have fairly set salaries based on pre-determined compensation “bands.”  For instance, they may never pay a four-year accountant more than $62k.  However, there are a host of other benefits you might have more luck negotiating:

  •    Signing bonus
  •    Relocation allowance
  •    Clothing/car allowance
  •    Vacation days
  •    Year-end bonus
  •    Medical and dental benefits
  •    Profit sharing/401(k)
  •    Flexible work hours/days
  •    Company computer/phone
  •    Plastic surgery allowance

Okay, I made the last one up, but the others are all legit.  Some companies may offer these benefits and might be persuaded to up the ante for you.  Those that don’t, might entertain the notion of indulging you – if you ask. 

Think about it this way.  If you make $104,000 a year, and you can negotiate an extra week of vacation, you just gave yourself a $2,000 raise.

Here’s what you say:

"I understand that you can’t raise my salary, but at my former job, I had three weeks of vacation.  I’d like to see if it’s possible to get an extra week of vacation each year."

3.  Just say it
Don’t beat around the bush, don’t hem and haw, and don’t think that you should feel badly about negotiating.  Once they are ready to have the talk, many job seekers ruin their chances by not being assertive.

  •    Bad:  "I was wondering if perhaps you might consider offering some type of compensation for my move.  I mean if not, it’s no big deal, but hopefully you have a few extra dollars.  Maybe?"
  •    Good: "Since I’ll be moving from Pittsburgh to New York, I’ll be incurring substantial moving expenses.  What type of relocation assistance do you offer?"

Negotiating your offer is never easy, but with the right approach it could turn into some extra cash.

Good luck!

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