11 Tips for Negotiating Your Offer

dreamstime_xs_22265698Negotiating your offer can be a delicate balancing act.  After all, this is your BEST chance for a meaningful increase in salary.  Unless you are getting promoted, typically yearly salary increases are 1.5% to 3%.  This means that the 5-10% increase that is common in an offer negotiation is very meaningful.  Many people who are early in their career change jobs every 2-4 years simply to gain an increase in compensation and responsibility.  On the other hand, if you negotiate too strongly there is a risk of the hiring company revoking the offer.

Here are 11 secrets from a recruiter on offer negotiation.

  1.  What do I say when a recruiter asks how much I’m currently making?
    Tell the recruiter exactly what you are currently making.  There are typical salary ranges for different roles.  It’s predictable that you will fall within that range.  An experienced recruiter will be able to tell from your qualifications and experience if you are underpaid, on par with the market, or overpaid.   Make sure you break down every piece of your compensation including: Base Salary.  Bonus.  A historical average of the bonus.  What your T4 or 401K was last year. A quick summary of your health benefits – was your medical coverage 100%, 80%, 50% etc.  Did your medical benefits include massage, physio therapy, and chiropractor? Were there any extra perks like cell phone, expense allowance, gym membership, yearly check up at an executive medical clinic, car allowance or car. Car insurance.  Tell them how many weeks of vacation you had.  A recruiter will be able to tell you whether the opportunity they are currently working on will be competitive with your current package.  I also recommend that you e-mail the recruiter with the specific details of your current salary and what you would consider in an offer. If you don’t tell the recruiter what you are making, it shows that you don’t trust them.  (I’ve had less than 5 people refuse to tell me their current salary in my entire career of recruiting.)
  2. When a recruiter asks “What are you looking for in an offer?”
    First talk about the role itself and how it’s important that it’s meaningful to you.  Address where this opportunity is inline with what’s important to you.  Then after explaining how your current compensation package is composed, say exactly what you want.  Be wary of giving a range.  If you say 85K-90K  but what you really want is 90K, you will likely be offered 85K.  Tell the recruiter exactly what you want.  Often people think that their salary will be largely increased.  Typically that’s not the case.   It’s usually 5-7K for a role with a base salary less than 100K and 7-12K for a role between 100-150K.  From 150K onwards, it’s often the bonus component or stock options that are the most meaningful part of the negotiation.
  3. How can I avoid turning off the hiring company when I negotiate?
    It’s important to state why you are interested in the opportunity.  Then say “given my personal / family obligations, it’s important for me to ask for your best, competitive offer.  If you were in my place, I know that you would ask for the same.  I have a solid track record of __x____ In return, you have my word that I’ll be loyal and committed.  I’m determined to provide ________ in this role.  (ex. Leadership, exceed my targets, outstanding service etc.) If you aren’t sure how the company is feeling about your negotiation or your requests that the recruiter is negotiating on your behalf.  Ask the recruiter.  “How do they really feel about my offer requests?  Do you think I’m out of line here?  What’s your advise?  Are my requests inline with how they have historically hired for this role?  You can also ask the recruiter, “Off the record, is there anything that you aren’t telling me about this negotiation?”
  4. Remember – A Recruiter knows more than they will say.
    A recruiter can be like a middle-man.  On one hand, their client is paying the bill.  And, while YES the recruiter will get paid more if your salary is higher, the recruiter is also looking at the long-term relationship with their client.  It’s in the recruiters best interest to negotiate a fair, but competitive offer.
  5. Here are some questions that you can ask the recruiter to get a sense for where the hiring company is at:
    Do you think that this is their best offer?Do you think that this is their final offer?Do you think there is any wiggle room here to bump the offer up?How do you think they will feel is we ask for x (5K more, 1 more week of vacation etc.)Is there anything that they would be willing to provide if they can’t increase the salary?
  6. What do you do if you feel that you have pushed too hard in a negotiation?
    If you are in the middle of a negotiation and feel that you have pushed for too hard, send a great message to both the recruiter and the hiring manager that’s something like this.  “I know that sometimes offer negotiations can be a bit awkward.  But I do want you to know that I am seriously interested in this opportunity.  I know that it’s possible for us to arrive at an offer where we are mutually satisfied.  Here is what I like about this role…..  Looking forward to continuted conversations and to ultimately working out the terms where we can start to work together.
  7. What if I’m offered a lateral offer to what I’m making now? What does that mean.
    If you are offered a lateral offer to your current compensation, it typically means that your current salary is on the high end of the salary band that they have for the role.  You can ask the recruiter to find out what is necessary to move you to the next level.
  8. I’m out of work and an negotiating a job offer.  What should my strategy be here?
    When you are out of work, you are at a bit of a disadvantage in your offer negotiation.  The longer you are out of work, the bigger the disadvantage.  Your best strategy here is to mention the other opportunities that you are interviewing with.  The best thing to share is that you are in the final stages of interviews with another company.  If this role is your #1 then say so.  But let them know that its important to you to get a fair, competitive offer.
  9. How can I find out salary ranges?
    Go to www.glassdoor.com   (It might be glassceiling.com)  You will often find out information about salary ranges and real insights from people who have worked at the company you are interviewing.  However, if someone seems to be ranting, in their post, take their comments with a grain of salt.
  10. Can I negotiate what medical benefits I get?
    Typically the answer is NO. Most companies negotiate their medical benefits package and everyone on the company is at the same level, with the exception of the senior executive team who may have a special package.  However, you CAN negotiate the start date of your health and medical benefits.  If your offer says that benefits start after a 3-month probationary period, ask if that can be waived so that your benefits start immediately. This is a very common negotiation and the answer is frequently YES.
  11. What  about a signing bonus?
    Some companies will offer signing bonuses and some don’t as a principle. Again, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.  Timing can be a big factor in your request for a signing bonus.  If you are leaving a significant amount of bonus money on the table due to the timing of your departure, you can negotiate a signing offer to off-set the bonus money that you would be leaving on the table.

Good luck in your salary negotiation!

Written by Shanna Landolt, President – Secrets of a Headhunter & The Landolt Group You can reach Shanna at shanna@landoltgroup.com or 416-849-3855