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Booyah! I Got the Job. Now it’s Time to Negotiate the Offer. How Can I Do This Best?

Pepperdine Graziadio - Negotiating the Offer

Most can agree that securing a new career opportunity in today’s competitive landscape is a process—a prolonged conglomerate of various moving parts that can sometimes have you questioning if the job search is even worth the insane amounts of effort required. Although, most can also agree that one of the, if not the most, exciting parts of landing a new job is the moment you receive the offer. 

Finally, most can also (again) agree one of the main focal stressors of career hunting is waiting to know if you got the job. Some go weeks, sometimes months, without hearing from their potential new employer—obsessively checking their phone every five seconds to see if they have received an update (don’t lie, we’ve all done it.)

And then, alas, that special call you’ve been waiting for finally comes through and you learn you have successfully landed that coveted position you’ve been working at for months. The good news? Your work has paid off and the hard parts are over. The not as fun news? You must negotiate the job offer. 

Whether you’re a career veteran with years of experience or a fresh-faced graduate looking to accept their first “adult” job, throughout this feature, we’ll look at: 

  • Things to consider when negotiating an offer
  • Conversations you should have with yourself before accepting

Getting Started

To start, let’s look at a couple of bullets that are important to consider when negotiating.

Do Your Research

As said many times previously, we live in the age of the internet. Doing your research is essential, especially if you want to know if you’re being given a fair offer at the current market rate. Using widely available services, such as Glassdoor or Careers.com, or any of the other career-oriented websites usually has data to back how your industry pays, what your specific title should earn, and how your negotiation should go if it comes to that point.

Research is also essential in the capacity of understanding how your industry functions and how the potential culture of your future employer may be. Some businesses, organizations, and the latter, do not offer an opportunity to negotiate. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that if negotiating is seen as “not polite,” and that is made evident by them, it could paint you in a worse light if you try to negotiate rather than accepting what is being given upfront. This is mostly a rare occurrence in a hypothetical situation, but it’s something to be aware of.

Lastly, if you’re feeling “trendy,” consider using a newer tool like Fishbowl—a mobile-first software (app) that connects professionals worldwide to network and engage in genuine conversations in an era of remote work. Accessing communities such as these allows you to take your research a step further and receive an unfiltered look into negotiating your offer along with other pertinent details that may be of importance.

Remember it’s Not Just About the $$$: Look at the Bigger Picture

The big picture is critical because there are numerous factors that go into your new career as a whole—meaning that some factors may be cause for negotiation over others.

For example, if you live in an expensive city, such as San Francisco, advocating for higher pay is appropriate given the inflated cost of living. In this case, compensation is the main factor you’re trying to negotiate—mainly due to your geographical location. In another instance, let’s say you negotiate to work from home in another city and are willing to take a lower pay as a substitute. In this example, you’re choosing to negotiate for your comfort rather than your pay. Or maybe you choose to negotiate your time, choosing a work structure that allows you the flexibility to enjoy other things instead of being chained to a desk for a typical nine to five.

In any of the above hypothetical examples, one thing remains consistent—what do you want to negotiate for? And why is it worth negotiating to you? For some, money is the sole motivating factor. But for others, they’d take a life of more free time to spend time doing what they love. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing what you want to negotiate, as long as it makes sense and is important to you.

Be Realistic

An imperative aspect of the negotiation process is remaining realistic. If you’re fresh out of school without any experience or work to show for, do not expect you’ll be getting paid as much as the vice president of 25 years. Furthermore, it goes back to the previous mention of research. If you’re in a certain industry that tends to pay lower than others, you shouldn’t expect to make a certain amount that exceeds those data points. The same goes with other parts of the job. Some jobs have certain objective truths, like how a surgeon cannot perform surgery on a patient over Zoom. If you’re in a certain industry that you know has certain requirements, do not try to negotiate yourself out of those requirements.

The benefits that can come with a career are another aspect to be realistic with. Perhaps your employer agrees to let you work from home forever. That’s great—but don’t expect them to buy you a full-fledged home office on top of the benefit they just gave. In some instances, you may earn a smaller perk like a technology stipend but being given the option to work from home is already a huge perk for many. It’s critical to remember part of negotiating is being realistic while the other part is being grateful that you’re receiving an offer at all, especially in an environment vastly diluted with numerous highly-qualified contenders.

Try Your Best to Be Objective

Going together with being realistic and doing your research is remaining objective on certain points of negotiation. For example, if there is various data to back how salaries are being paid in a certain industry, that objective data can make it easier to negotiate for the current market rate, especially if that information is publicly available. Furthermore, focusing on objectivity shows that you’re capable of looking at things through the lens of logic—rather than solely basing your decisions on feelings or opinions. Objectivity is an especially great skill to have in certain environments because it allows you to make decisions based on fact over fiction. With that in mind, negotiating an offer is a solid place to start practicing your objectivity.

Start Negotiating During the Interview

While this recommendation might seem “risky,” there are ways to strategically make your desires known without coming off as impolite or demanding. For example, throughout the interview process, you can mention what your long-term career goals look like, how you see yourself fitting within the organization, and mention what you’re looking to gain out of the career altogether. The interview process is also a critical time to express how you work and what you like to see in an employer. While these are not direct negotiations, it is an indirect way to subtly hint at some of the aspects you’d prefer in your life as a career professional.

Food for thought: If you express some of your wants early on during the interview process and they cannot be met, whether realistic or not, it’s a strong sign that a role is probably not the right fit for you. If there are any aspects of a career that you really want or need to be met, do not settle for anything less than that.

Know Your Worth

While this recommendation is more of a subjective nature and can be hard to gauge, it is something important to consider when making a negotiation. If you’re taking on a highly critical role that entails substantial responsibility, make sure you are getting compensated fairly. Furthermore, make sure you’re not letting yourself get lowballed because of a company’s status or perceived identity, your age, gender, race, or anything else. The year is 2022 and it’s time that all companies are equitable to their employees. If you have the knowledge and skills the job requires, the rest shouldn’t matter. 

Knowing your worth also comes into play when asking for what you want in a negotiation. The more you sharpen your expertise and begin to evolve into a subject matter expert with the skills to prove it, the more overall firing power you should have to (appropriately) ask for what you want and need to be successful in any given role.

If you think about some of the most successful individuals in tech, engineering, finance, or anything else, most of them got there by asking for what they wanted. How? Because they know what they are worth.

Conversations to Have with Yourself

While this suggestion may sound somewhat odd and unorthodox, it’s critical to have a conversation with yourself as to why you want to accept this job and why you need to negotiate for certain things. If you don’t have these answers prepared ahead of time, how do you expect to vouch for them during a negation process? When you take the time to think about what you want and develop reasoning as to why you need them, it will make the real conversation much easier. Being prepared is never a bad look, especially when it comes to searching for a new career. You wouldn’t want to interview at a company without knowing anything about it beforehand, right? It’s the same for your negotiation process. If you want your negotiation(s) to go smoothly and be taken seriously, you need to be prepared beforehand.

Aside from preparation, it’s important to create a “pros and cons” list to weigh every aspect of the job, especially if the career is going to require making some significant changes (i.e., moving, a long commute, etc.) If the cons outweigh the pros, it may be a sign that the career opportunity is not the best fit. And if the pros outweigh the cons (by a little or a longshot) it’s clearly meant to be. In either instance, understanding what may be lost to gain something else is a critical conversation that you need to have.

Lastly and most importantly, make sure the job is what you want. Sometimes throughout life, we tell ourselves we “want” something only to find it didn’t work out as planned. It’s vital to ensure that your career decisions align with what you want for your life overall and doesn’t cause you to compromise your happiness or wellbeing. The best situations should ultimately fulfill your professional career aspirations and meet the demands of your private life.

In summary, negotiating for what you want is critical—for your career prospects and life overall. Remember that a lot of life is negotiation, finding ways to work with our surroundings to create an amicable situation for all. In the end, how you choose to negotiate is entirely up to you, but don’t ever be afraid to ask for what you want. Life is short and there’s an abundance of opportunities to be explored. Seize the day, live life to the fullest, and treat all living things with care and respect—being kind to all is the only part of life that should never be negotiable.