|  April 12, 2016

When you should negotiate a job offer, and when you shouldn’t

Since today is equal pay day, I thought it’d be the perfect time to discuss negotiating job offers.

When I think back to the many clients I’ve worked with who’ve landed new jobs, there is one question that always remains before we’re signed, sealed, and delivered… and that is:

Should I negotiate my job offer?

While I am all about “asking for more” the answer is not as simple as yes or no. For men and women, whether you should negotiate your job offer depends on a number of factors.

negotiate job offer

When you should absolutely negotiate your offer

If during the interview process you discussed what your salary expectations were, the recruiter or Hiring Manager didn’t tell you that was unrealistic, and the offer didn’t meet those expectations.

If you find yourself in this situation, you should absolutely negotiate. You can very politely say, “during the interview process, we discussed a salary in the range of $X-$Y. If we could get there, I would be happy to accept the offer.”

You didn’t discuss compensation at all during the interview process, and the offer doesn’t meet your expectations for one of the reasons below…
  • You’re currently earning more than what is outlined in the offer and you’d like to see an increase in order to make a move. If that’s the case, you should bring this point into your negotiation and be transparent about your current compensation.
  • The offer is out of line with the market: If you’ve done your research on what the market is paying for a certain type of role (more on this here) and the offer doesn’t meet that $, that is another good reason to negotiate.
  • Lots of other reasons: If you didn’t have a prior discussion on salary and don’t feel the offer is fair for any number of reasons, you can and should definitely negotiate. The worst they can say is no.
Here are a few things to remember before you negotiate:
  • Always be gracious and show your appreciation for the offer and excitement about the job. No one hiring you wants to feel like it’s only about the money.
  • Be informed and back it up. Making a strong case for why you’re asking for a certain salary will increase your likelihood of getting it.
  • Don’t make it personal. Never bring personal issues into a negotiation with a new employer. If you can’t pay your rent, or your gym membership, that’s not your employer’s issue and it’s not going to help you make your case.
  • Opt for phone over email. This stuff can be sensitive and you don’t want to leave room for any misinterpretation which can happen in email.
  • They want to hire you! If you approach respectfully and have good rationale to back up your ask, it’s highly unlikely the offer is going to disappear. Remember, they gave you an offer! Their goal is to hire you!

When you probably shouldn’t negotiate your offer:

I know there are people out there who say that you always have to ask, but I completely disagree with that. There are definitely certain situations where this is not the right move.

You already agreed on compensation with the recruiter or hiring manager and the offer reflects that.

There are exceptions here of course but it doesn’t look great to go back on your word. The reason why recruiters sometimes want to discuss these details ahead of time is to make sure they have the budget to give you an offer before they waste more of their time or yours.

I’m not saying you can’t change your mind about what you want, but it the person on the other end already feels that the topic has been clearly addressed, they’re not likely to be flexible.

The offer is generous and meets/exceeds your expectations

Not all companies are trying to pay you as little as possible to get you on board. That’s actually a pretty bad strategy because it makes you poachable to other companies.

Best in class companies will bring their A game and pay you what you’re worth on the first shot. If you feel like the offer is generous, you don’t need to negotiate just for the sake of it. Companies who take this approach also have very little wiggle room.

The offer is in line with the market, even if it’s less than what you’re currently making

Maybe you’re making a lateral move or even a step back to get into your dream company and/or job. In this case, an increase in salary may not be in the cards. That being said, unless that expectation was already set, you may still want to open the discussion.

Hope this helps you tackle this complex topic. Good luck with your negotiation and go get some $!

Did you enjoy this post? Get tools, templates, and advice delivered straight to your inbox