Ask A Career Expert: How To Negotiate A Job Offer Like A Professional

Accepting a new position is an exciting time for almost everybody. Emotions are running high as the candidate thinks about all the new opportunities and challenges that lay ahead, and their employer (hiring manager, and HR) will be relieved to fill their position after what may have been an exhaustive search.

Unfortunately, many candidates let their emotions take over during the offer stage. They may be relieved to leave their current position, excited to reduce their time in morning rush hour, looking forward to their new office space, or just happy to have finished the interview process, but they may be leaving money on the table if they allow their feelings to control their decision-making process.

How To Negotiate A Job Offer Like A Professional

In some professions, it is customary to negotiate any offer that you are presented with (sales, business development, tech, C-suite). In other professions, offer negotiations are almost unheard of (low skill, low wage positions).

But for most of us, the best opportunity to maximize your income potential is when first accepting an offer. Performance bonuses are a nice carrot but would you rather have a 10 percent bonus on top of a $75,000 salary or a 10 percent bonus on a $68,000 salary? The same goes for an annual COLA, (cost of living adjustment).

How to negotiate a job offer in a professional manner

Think about every extra $1,000 in salary the same way you think about the long-term effects of compound interest. For every extra $1,000 you make in salary, the more your increase in performance bonuses, COLA, and company funded retirement contributions, compounds over the next five, 10, or 15 years.

Related: How a career change improved my life

As a recruiter, I talk about compensation early and often in the process with both the candidate and the client. For people not working with a recruiter, I recommend that they ask about the compensation range and midpoint for their paygrade, and the paygrade above them during the first interview; there is no point continuing the process and wasting time if there is no way forward to an offer.

For example, if you are the top performing salesperson making $150,000 at your current company then there is very little chance that you would walk away from your book of business for an $85,000 salary with incentives tied to company performance that might get you up to $125,000.

If you are interviewing for a position with large performance bonuses or commissions, the question you want to ask them is, “What is the realistic earning potential for this position for the first, second, and third year?” and, “what does your top salesperson make and how long did it take them to make it?”

Let them know you past compensation and history of meeting sales targets and let them know what it will take for you to continue with the conversation.

Final thoughts

According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, only 57 percent of highly educated men negotiate their salary. Among highly educated women, just 7 percent negotiate a job offer.

Companies know that people are uncomfortable asking for money. They use this to their advantage. Do yourself a favour, you have one chance to go to the well and the best odds of succeeding are during the offer stage.

Jon Reisinger is a headhunter with experience recruiting in banking and biotech in the USA. He is currently the VP Sales and Marketing for Paragon Search Group, a Biotech recruiting company specializing in Process Development. He has recruited and placed dozens of senior level professionals into positions within companies ranging in size from startup to Fortune 50. He is also a long-time follower of Boomer & Echo and has acted on many of the strategies put forth by Robb and Marie.

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  1. JP on June 16, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Great post! When I got hired at my current job I was offered $70k to start and I came back with $75k. They agreed and now I’m thankful every day for that extra $5k in salary, which has a positive impact on my future raises and pension.

  2. Jon Reisinger on June 16, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Congrats on the counter! What sort of language did you use? How did you ask for more money? On a scale of 1-10. How difficult was it to ask for more money and how did the company respond?
    I’m working on a follow up piece with a couple of sample scripts people can use to counter back after the original offer.

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