Tips for Negotiating a Higher Job Offer

You’ve interviewed for a job you’d enjoy, only to receive an offer that’s less than you’d hoped for.  We’ve all been there – or will eventually be – as we go through our career.

Discussing money makes many of us nervous.  We’re taught not to bring it up during the interview, but what do you do when their offer is a bit low?  Do you just accept it?  Try to negotiate?

First, if you’re interviewing for an entry level position, there’s very little negotiating to be done.  Simply, “the job” pays xxx.  In that case, you really don’t have any leverage.

As you progress in your career you’ll find that even hourly roles come with a pay range.  Ads will often state, “Compensation/salary is based on experience.”

Let’s walk through a hypothetical.  You’ve done your homework and believe a fair offer for someone of your skills/experience is roughly $50,000 for the position.  Fifty thousand isn’t what you’d hope to get or what you’d settle for.  (If you’re hourly, substitute the corresponding hourly wage.)

You get the call.  The employer offers you $45k.  That’s five grand less than you’d anticipated.  What now?

Assuming you haven’t been shown the benefits/health coverage/vacation policy, that’s your first request.  But you’ve already seen it.

Tell them you’re excited about the opportunity and flattered that they’ve selected you.  Emphasize to them it’s an important step and that you’d want to discuss it with loved ones.  Ask them when they’d want an answer.

Typically they’ll give you a few days.  Call them back within that time frame, again expressing interest in joining the team.  Here’s where things get dicey.  You would probably take the $45k, but an extra few thousand spends better in your wallet than theirs, so you’ll take a shot at trying to get more money without issuing an ultimatum of, “I’m turning it down unless you pay me xxx.”

Restate your interest in the position and tell them that after weighing their requirements and your qualifications, you felt it’s possible the compensation might be a bit on the light side… and ask them what could be done in terms of compensation.

Now.  Be.  Quiet.  Let them respond.  They might say there’s nothing they can do.  They might blurt out a higher number.  But most likely they’ll ask you what you had in mind.

Don’t name a specific number.  That’s a line in the sand and you run a risk of being turned down.  Instead, respond with a range… the bottom of which is where you felt the “fair” number – $50K- falls.

“I’d envisioned something closer to the low 50’s.”  You’re looking for a win-win here.  Maybe they respond with, “Well, we could do $49k (or 50, or something like that).  How’s that?”

No salary negotiating strategy works every time.  And I understand if you don’t feel comfortable in pushing the issue.  But if you do go for more money, keep me in mind when you’re rich and famous!  Good luck!