10 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer

Are you happy about your job offer but want to change some of the details? Learn 10 rules that can help you negotiate a job offer.
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  • Negotiations can include salary, PTO, childcare costs, work schedule, and other benefits.
  • When negotiating a salary, consider the entire compensation package.
  • Researching and practicing will better prepare you to negotiate.
  • Most companies expect potential employees to negotiate their job offer.

Receiving a job offer is an exciting step forward in your job search. However, when it comes to negotiating the specifics of your job offer, it can be a bit intimidating.

You are actually in a great position to negotiate — and you may not even know it.

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According to a 2021 survey by ManpowerGroup, 69% of employers have trouble finding the talent they need. So when you do receive a job offer, just know it's not set in stone. If there are certain things that you don't like about your offer, you can negotiate those details.

But many job seekers decide not to negotiate.

According to a 2020 survey by Glassdoor, 59% of American employees accepted the first offered salary instead of negotiating. While it's great that you're excited about your new job opportunity, you may still want to consider negotiating.

Keep the following tips in mind when you attempt to negotiate your job offer. Also, be sure to take some time off between jobs if you need it.

1. Consider the Entire Compensation Package

While the salary is important, there are additional benefits that you will want to consider. Be sure to calculate your entire compensation package to get the full picture of what the company is offering.

Items you can potentially negotiate include:

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    Personal and vacation days — paid time off (PTO)
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    Tuition reimbursement
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    Training and development stipend
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    Childcare costs
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    Transportation costs
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    Flexible work schedule
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    Starting bonus
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    Relocation costs

By understanding the entire compensation package, you will be in a better place to negotiate.

2. Research the Position

To determine whether the salary aligns with the market value, you should do some research. Figure out the pay range for the position you're offered, based on where you live. Depending on the cost of living, the salary may differ between locations.

If you're considering relocating, it's also important to look at a cost of living comparison calculator. This can help you understand the value of your potential new salary. You can look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sites to get a complete picture of the salary range.

3. Explain Why You Deserve More

When negotiating, throwing out numbers or extra vacation days by themselves isn't enough. It can help if you back up why you think you deserve more. Going in confident and with the reasoning behind why you are worth more will do a great deal to help your case.

Plan out how to best communicate your message without sounding arrogant. You need to prepare justifications about why you're asking for a larger salary, more PTO, or flexible hours. Think through how to explain this without alienating the hiring manager.

Here's an example if you're seeking a higher salary based on your achievements:

"Thank you for taking the time to discuss the job offer with me. I'm so excited about the [role], and I believe I'll be a great fit at [company name]. Before accepting the role, I wanted to discuss the proposed salary further. As shared throughout the interview process, I have [number of years] years of experience within [specific field], and [numbers-driven accomplishment here]. I am seeking a salary of [desired salary]."

4. Be Likable

Along with keeping arrogance in check, go into the negotiation with the best intentions. If the hiring manager or recruiter likes you, they are more likely to fight for you. It is important to communicate well and not be overly pushy.

Arriving at the negotiation with a well-prepared approach will only help your cause. Think about how your requests will be perceived, and make sure to be polite instead of combative. Consider practicing what you'll say with a friend or family member, or have them read the email you're sending.

5. Let Them Know You Want the Position

When you're negotiating, be clear that you want the position. The hiring manager won't be willing to negotiate with you if you complain a ton. They may think you will end up saying no to the offer — even if they give you some or all of what you want.

If you have other offers, but this is the one you want, tell them that. Be upfront about what it would take for you to accept this offer and forgo all of the others.

6. Figure Out Where They Can Be Flexible

No matter how much negotiating you do, the company may not be able to give you everything you want. You need to figure out where they are willing to negotiate and where they aren't. For example, they may have salary caps and simply can't meet what you want to make.

They also could have other policies that prevent them from giving more vacation days to start with, or there could be reasons they want you in the office until a certain time.

Figure out where their pain points are and which points are flexible.

7. Prepare for Them to Push Back and Ask Tough Questions

It would be great if potential employers could just give us everything we want. But that's not how most negotiations go.

They may push back and ask you tough questions about if you're willing to accept an offer whether they do (or do not) meet certain demands.

They could ask you if you have any other offers. Be honest in your answers. Don't be dishonest to get what you want.

Prepare for these questions ahead of time:

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    Do you have other offers on the table?
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    Are we your top choice?
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    How did you choose this amount?
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    Are there other added benefits you'd be willing to consider?

8. Role Play the Negotiation

Practicing your negotiation conversation will go a long way in helping you prepare.

Ask a friend or family member to go over this conversation with you. Ask them to pay attention to your answers and your body language. Your body language could be showing something that you don't realize.

By practicing as much as possible, you will feel more confident going into your negotiation.

9. Write Out Your Talking Points

Just like when you prepared for your interview, be sure to prepare notes for your negotiation. A bulleted list of the things you want to address and why will help you stay on track as you speak to the hiring manager.

Make sure to include accomplishments and projects you can reference when giving evidence to support your request for a higher salary or another point that you want changed to accept the job offer.

10. Don't Let Resentment Cloud Your Judgment

Remember, your potential employer is not out to get you or pay you far less than you're worth. Long negotiations and all the back and forth can be frustrating, and the hiring manager may have other things to consider.

For example, they may be unwilling to budge on a certain item because limits were set by their boss or someone higher up in the company. Or, there is a salary cap that they can't exceed.

Hiring managers also have a lot to do. So while you may be stressed out about negotiations or what seems like a lack of communication, it could really just be that the hiring manager is busy — and not ignoring you.

Bottom Line

When you receive a job offer, you don't need to take it as it is. You can always negotiate.

Be sure to evaluate the entire offer, decide what's most important to you and why, and go into negotiations with a positive attitude.

The most important things are that you do your research and have sound reasoning for why you're negotiating.

By explaining the reasoning behind your requests — and by negotiating politely — things will likely go much smoother.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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