Negotiating: How to Negotiate a Job Offer

You are one of those lucky people who are looking for a new job and actually found one of interest. You have passed your interviews and are being offered a job. How do you negotiate the job offer?

For starters you need to consider what you need and what you want. Those are quite different things and defining each will enable you to focus on getting what you need without being taken in by what you want. A company car and other perks can turn your head but do not necessarily pay the bills. At the same time they can offset other costs and may be worth more than cash itself.

To maximize your potential when negotiating a job offer consider taking these simple preliminary steps.

Define the Job Requirements

Before consider accepting an offer for a new job there are some things to be considered.

Where will you be working? Does it require a commute or relocation? This can add personal costs that may or may not be covered by the new compensation package unless you address it when negotiating a job offer. Depending on the job there many situations where asking for a relocation allowance or commuting compensation is not out of line.

Will you need a new wardrobe or other tools of the trade? If the job has specific requirements that are unique to the position you should be able to negotiate an adjustment in the compensation package to offset these job related costs.

What will your hours be? Even though you may not be able to garner additional compensation for child care you will want to consider additional personal expenses such as extending child care costs when evaluating any offer.

What you are doing at this juncture is assessing the cost to you of taking the new job and identifying such expenses that you will want to address before you negotiate a job offer. The base salary is only the starting point in a compensation package but the hiring day is the best day to address the full range of compensation the company is able to offer.

Define the Potential Sources of Compensation

Compensation is far more than the salary. It is the full range of benefits you receive from an employer that comprise the compensation potential to you. Obviously these vary by job level so it is important to establish the parameters are for the specific job for which you are being considered. The human resource personnel are likely to be willing to share the various standard benefits available for the position for which you have applied.

Depending on the job grade, typical benefits are expense accounts, mileage compensation, company cars, phones and computers, college are advanced degree reimbursement, vacation time, maternity time, company recognized holidays, possibly child care facilities, and anything else the human resource department feels is appropriate or standard for your position.

Remember, while you are the interviewee for the position you should also consider the company your interviewee in terms of an important change for you. Before considering any job offer you should spend a little time finding out the company's retention and promotion reputation. You will spend as much time with the company as you do with your family each year, maybe more. So you should make sure the company, the co-worker group, and the job are worth making a change.

Don't forget your current company. If you are employed, review why you are leaving. If you like the company and you work environment but want or need more compensation consider seeing if your company will match or beat the best offer you can negotiate with the new company. Tenure is a benefit in many companies in terms of benefits and you may be losing ground in terms of vacation pay or job security so you should not consider simply a lateral move unless you have to do so. By having n offer from another company you are able to demonstrate your value in the job market to wake up your current boss and get him to go to bat to keep you.

Establish How Badly You Need This Job

One thing that will impact how aggressively you negotiate a job offer is how badly you need the job. Obviously your situation will control how much you can press the new employer. The more desperate you are the less leverage you have.

If you are gainfully unemployed, then you will obviously want to press enough to see if you can improve the package but not so much that you make the other person consider withdrawing the offer. Even if you agree to the terms if they feel you won't be happy with the package long term they may decide to look for someone else who will appreciate the opportunity more.

If you are employed and your job is secure then you are simply looking to upgrade your situation. That allows you to be more aggressive as losing the job just means that you start the job over; not that you lose your house!

And then there is the market place. Estimate how likely it is you can find a comparable job. If similar jobs are few and far between, then you will want to be more cautions. If these jobs are readily available then press and, if you aren't satisfied, go to the next prospect.

Take the Negotiation to the Right Person

Many companies put applicants through several different interviews and, when they decide to make an job offer, do so though the human resource department. This is great for the company but impersonal for you. Human Resources is more likely trying to fit you into company brackets for the specific job and leave some room for your financial growth before you 'max out'. This may not meet your needs and HR may not care as they will not be working with you.

If you have made a good impression with someone or everyone on the selection committee you should be sure to send them a personal letter thanking them for the opportunity to interview. If they respond you may have created an inroad to which you can turn if negotiations with HR falter. HR is just doing a routine job but the selection committee is seeking to bring talent into the company. As a result, they may be more willing to bend the rules a bit to accommodate your needs. Subject to how badly you need the job you should use this option only if you are prepared to walk away from the opportunity as you may step on a few toes that kick back.