Negotiating the offer

Negotiating the offer

You’ve made valuable connections in the industry you’re interested in, built relevant experience and applied for jobs. Now you receive a job offer. What do you do next? Before you accept, it’s worth taking the time to consider whether what you’re being offered is in line with your expectations. If it isn’t, there may be room to negotiate.

Negotiation strategies

In North America, it’s a common practice to negotiate salary offers. Remember that the primary focus of your negotiations should be base salary, then bonuses. Negotiating for enhanced benefits is your third option. If you receive a job offer where the salary is below your expectations, take the following steps before launching yourself into a negotiation:

Restate the offer

Restate what you’ve heard to ensure you have fully understood the offer. Often your interview recollections are distorted due to anxiety - taking notes can help.

Do your homework

Recruiters expect you to come to an interview knowing your worth. They also expect that you will have researched the industry to ensure your salary expectations are in keeping with industry norms. You need to demonstrate how you can add value to the organization and provide concrete examples of your relevant achievements and skills. The following links will help you to determine appropriate salary ranges in your chosen field:

You should negotiate only after a solid job offer has been presented and before you have either accepted or declined it. Make sure you have all the details in writing first. One strategy is to express an interest in the opportunity, and then ask for time to consider the offer. Within a reasonable timeframe, contact the employer requesting a meeting to discuss the salary and package being offered. At this meeting, clearly state your interest in the position then proceed into your negotiations.

Depending on your comfort level you can choose one of the following three common approaches:

  1. Open Ended, Indirect
  2. Open Ended, Direct
  3. Close Ended, Direct

This Salary Negotiation Flowchart explains more about the process. You can also find information about negotiation strategies on the Monster website and at Quintessential Careers.

If the employer can’t move on the base salary or bonuses, you may also be able to negotiate for enhanced benefits. These include performance reviews (where remuneration is increased after a certain period based on performance), performance incentives, relocation bonuses, vacation time, and association membership and training expense coverage.

Whatever the outcome, be sure to maintain a professional demeanour. Here are three key things to remember:

Keep discussions on a friendly, positive note

Negotiating is a normal part of the hiring process. It is not intended to be a battle of wills. Keep conversations pleasant and non-confrontational.

Know when to stop talking

After you’ve stated your position, be quiet. The silence may be awkward for you, but it offers the employer time to analyze your counter-offer. Your silence also speaks volumes about your confidence and self-esteem.

Consider the situation

Unionized companies and some multinational recruiters with formalized, on-campus recruiting programs and salary structures do not have the leeway to negotiate remuneration. You may have more success with these types of organizations by negotiating a shortened performance review period.


Did you know?

Negotiations aren’t just about salary. “Job perks” such as medical, dental, vision, sick leave and vacation days can add the equivalent 15 to 28 percent of your salary.

Accepting and declining offers

Even though you may have accepted a position over the telephone, it’s important to confirm your understanding of the details and formal acceptance in writing. The letter should include your understanding of the terms of your employment: the job title, start date, starting salary, benefits and any other pertinent information.

If a company has extended a job offer that you’ve decided not to accept, you need to advise them both by phone and in writing. Your letter should thank the employer for the offer and briefly cite your reason for the decline – e.g. you’ve accepted another job or determined that the opportunity is not a good fit. It’s not necessary to provide further details, but you may do so if you wish. Maintain your professionalism both over the phone and in your letter. Remember, this employer could become a valuable contact in the future.

Beginning your new job

Congratulations! You’ve landed a new job. Now it’s time to prove yourself and lay a solid foundation for the rest of your career. Within the first 90 days, focus on the following areas:

Manage first impressions

  • Take note of how other people dress in the company
  • Maintain a professional appearance at work
  • Practice your handshake
  • Demonstrate an interested, eager-to-learn attitude
  • Be aware of the vocabulary you use

Secure early wins

Early wins build your credibility and should be a key goal in your first few weeks. Start by identifying ways to add value and improve business results. Similarly, you need to know your supervisor/unit’s performance expectations and how your success will be measured.

Negotiate success with your boss

Because no other relationship is more important, you need to build a productive working relationship with your new boss and manage his or her expectations. This means carefully planning for a series of critical conversations about your situation, expectations, style, resources, and personal development. It means developing and gaining consensus on your 90-day plan.

Create alliances

Your success will depend on your ability to influence people outside your direct line of control. You’ll need supportive alliances, both internal and external, to achieve your goals. Having these alliances will help you get things done faster, gain valuable inside information and expand your network. You should identify those individuals whose support is essential for your success right away and figure out how to get them on your side.


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