There are 2 key elements in negotiating a job offer: what you are looking for, and what the organization is willing to pay. Like most stages of your job search journey, it is vital to prepare for negotiating a job offer by doing your research! Not only should you research the market salaries, but you should also take the time to think through what you would be looking for in terms of salary, benefits, and other contingencies.
There are a number of excellent resources online to help you with your research. Here are a few that should help:
- Monster.ca – http://monsterca.salary.com/CanadaSalaryWizard/LayoutScripts/Swzl_NewSearch.aspx
- Payscale.com – http://www.payscale.com/index/CA/Job
- Salary.com – http://swz.salary.com/CanadaSalaryWizard/LayoutScripts/Swzl_NewSearch.aspx
- Robert Half – https://www.roberthalf.ca/en/workplace-research/salary-guides
- Hays – https://www.hays.ca/salaryguide/
- Glass Door – https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salaries/index.htm?&countryRedirect=true
When thinking through what you are looking for, you should think about what your bottom line offer would be – after all, regardless of how enticing an opportunity may be, you still need to pay your bills. Other factors to consider include benefits, vacation, bonus/commissions, percent of travel, flexible work arrangements, etc. For all of these factors, think about the worst case, best case, and middle ground offers, and be sure to rank order each of the factors you are considering by importance. For instance, if you are considering a role that requires travel, perhaps you would be willing to reduce your salary expectations if the amount of travel were reduced. Going through this exercise will enable you to discuss multiple line items in the offer during your negotiation.
Timing – Initial Salary Discussion
Another aspect of negotiation is timing. Sometimes the recruiter or hiring manager will ask about your salary expectations early on in the recruitment process. This is a good time to make sure that your expectations are aligned to the role. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but at least in the same ballpark. It is always better to provide the recruiter or hiring manager with some sort of salary range, otherwise, they may question your preparedness and your business acumen if you are elusive in your expectations. After all, negotiation can be an element in the role for which you are interviewing.
Sometimes recruiters will ask you what you earned in your last role (or what you are currently making), but that isn’t necessarily relevant, nor is it always an appropriate question. A perfectly reasonable answer to this question, however, is to say that based on the role as you understand it, you would be expecting between $X and $Y (fill in the blanks). Keep in mind: if you are elusive in your answer about your salary expectations, the recruiter may need to resort to asking about your previous salary. As such, this question becomes increasingly relevant and appropriate for keeping the conversation moving forward.
If the salary discussion hasn’t been brought up by the hiring company by the time you finish your 1st round of in-person interviews, it is ok for you to broach the topic with the recruiter or hiring manager after the interview. It is typically not appropriate to ask in the job interview itself, however. Having a salary conversation in advance of a job offer can help you determine whether or not the role is a good fit for you, and it is also your opportunity to use the negotiation tactic of ‘anchoring’ – a cognitive bias whereby decisions are made based on the first piece of information that is revealed in a negotiation.
Timing – Job Offer
When you do receive a job offer, if you’ve done your research and thought through your needs, you should be prepared to talk about several line items in the one negotiation. Although salary is an important factor, it’s usually not the only or even most important factor to consider. Being able to look at the big picture in the overall offer should help you to better assess if there are areas where each side could potentially be flexible. In addition, if there isn’t a lot of “wiggle room” on the employer’s side, you could suggest things like a signing bonus to help close any gaps in the offer. In doing so, you will be able to demonstrate your reasonableness, flexibility, and creativity. On the other hand, if you settle one item and go back to the employer later with other requests, you will appear to be indecisive, or even greedy.
Multiple Offers & Counter Offers
In the event that you have multiple job offers, and/or your current employer extends a counter offer – Congratulations! It is important to remember that you must be honest in your negotiations with your current and prospective employers. Disclosing that you have other offers or a counter offer on the table is valuable information to the prospective employer, but be careful not to use this as a “hardball tactic” in your negotiation.
Another important consideration is that you must be honest about your other offers. Lying about a salary package is not only unethical, but you will also run the risk of breaching contract laws – thereby increasing the potential of having your job offer revoked or being terminated after you start.
Remember that you are negotiating with people. Companies don’t negotiate, people do. As such, it is important that you see things from the employer’s perspective. They see value in you and are showing that by offering you the opportunity to join their team. By being fair and reasonable in your negotiation tactics, you will be confirming with the employer that they are making the right decision in offering the job to YOU! On the other hand, if the employer’s offer is insulting, then perhaps you would want to re-consider this organization as a potential employer.
Every step along the recruitment journey there are signs that indicate whether or not the organization you are entertaining is the right fit for you. The negotiation is another way to screen a company in or out, just as much as it is a way for the company to screen a candidate in or out. As such, the negotiation stage is just as important as every other step in the recruitment life cycle. It’s important that each party is treated fairly and are happy with the end result.
If you have any other insights on successfully negotiating your job offer, please feel free to leave a comment below!