How to Negotiate a Job Offer or Salary

Did you know that when you’re offered a job or a particular salary, the initial offer might not be the best one that is available to you? In fact, it’s always a good idea to negotiate on salary if at all possible. Some employers have very fixed budgets and won’t be able to offer more, but you’d be surprised at how often negotiating gets people what they want!

Read on to learn how to negotiate and give yourself the best chance of getting a “yes”.

Do your research

Doing your research arms you with valuable information about market rates, typical salaries for your role and level of experience, and the cost of living in your area. Going into the discussion with all the facts will allow you to negotiate from a place of strength.

Your employer or potential employer will also be impressed that you’re basing your salary request on actual data, rather than pulling a number out of the air. And if what you’re asking for can be backed up with facts and figures, you’re much more likely to get what you want.

Ask for time to think about an offer

It can be tempting to jump on any job offer and say yes, especially during challenging times like the ones we’re in at the moment. But that can put you at a disadvantage. If at all possible, ask for a little bit of time (24-48 hours, or the weekend if the offer comes on a Friday) to think over a job offer before you accept or decline.

This not only allows you to make a fully informed choice about whether the role is really right for you. It also gives you time and space to look through their offer, do your research (see above!), and plan your negotiating strategy.

Be straightforward

Did you know that, according to one study, only 7% of women said they’d negotiated their salary when they got a job offer, while 57% of men said they had? In this study, the men also earned around 7.6% more on average.

People often feel embarrassed about negotiating salary, but you really don’t need to! It’s a normal part of working life and you deserve to speak up and advocate for yourself to get paid what you’re worth.

So don’t apologise about negotiating. Be straightforward, matter-of-fact, and polite but direct. A good employer will never be offended, shut you down, or pull a job offer because you attempt to negotiate. And if they do? Well, that’s a big red flag you probably want to know about!

Don’t try to engineer a bidding war

Perhaps you’ve got offers from two or more employers. Tempting though it can be, do not attempt to play them off against each other in an attempt to engineer a kind of “bidding war” for who gets to employ you. This is very likely to backfire.

And if you don’t have other offers, please don’t be tempted to pretend you do. The risk is too high that the prospective employer will call your bluff and tell you to take the other offer, leaving you back where you started.

Instead, negotiate from a place of good faith and honesty. In other words, start as you mean to continue if you get the job!

Consider factors other than salary

Salary matters, but it’s not the only aspect of a job offer you should consider. For example, some people would happily take a slightly lower salary in exchange for a very generous holiday time allowance.

Are there other perks available – or that you can negotiate for – that will make the job more appealing if the employer won’t or can’t budge on salary? Perhaps you’d save money and time if you were allowed to work from home two days per week, or a flexi-time arrangement that fits around your family can be negotiated?

Consider money, but also look at the full package and range of benefits that are available to you. There might be other areas that can be tweaked to make the offer more attractive.

Go in slightly higher than your ideal salary

Let’s imagine a potential employer has offered you £25,000 per year, but you’d really like to make £27,000. If you ask for that figure straight away, you have nowhere to go if they try to negotiate you down (which they very well might do). If you start by naming £28,000 or even slightly higher as your ideal salary, though, you’ve got wiggle room.

Don’t name an outlandish figure, of course. Asking for twice what they’ve offered you will just make you look out of touch. But starting from a number slightly higher than the amount you’d ideally like to make is a smart negotiating move. Best case scenario? They say yes and you end up even better off than you hoped!

Consider the potential for raises later

If your new job wants to bring you in at the lower end of the salary range for the position, is there scope to renegotiate and get a raise later? You might decide that the salary they’re offering is fair now, but when you have another year or two of experience, you’ll probably feel differently. And that’s fine!

When you are negotiating your offer, ask how the company handles raises and if they’d be willing to re-open discussions about your salary in a year or so, subject to performance.

Know your limits

Before you go in, know what you will and won’t accept. For example, is the initial offer acceptable and attractive enough to you if you can’t get any more? Or are you prepared to walk away if the employer cannot offer you more than that?

Only by being completely honest with yourself can you negotiate from an equitable playing field. Whatever you do, don’t take a job when you’re unhappy with the salary or benefits package being offered. You’ll end up burned out and resentful, and you’ll probably quit sooner rather than later, leaving you back where you started.

Have you successfully negotiated a job offer or salary?

We’d love to hear your success stories! How did it go and what did you say? Let us know.


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