You did it. After how many rounds of interviews and follow-up meetings, you have finally been offered the job. Congratulations. Now that all your research, role-play sessions and diligent preparation work is over, it’s time to settle into the role.
Wait a minute. What about your salary and benefits package? Have you negotiated that? No? Then there is still much work to be done. If you’re one of those people who thinks you should just take whatever is offered to you, I have good news for you. In today’s hybrid, employee-centric marketplace, employers actually expect candidates to discuss their salaries and benefits.
- Introduce benefits negotiations at the time you’re offered the job
If you feel uncomfortable reading this first tip, you’re not alone. While research states that 70 percent of employers expect to engage in negotiations with their would-be employees at the time of their offer, the same research reveals that just over half (55 percent) of the candidates brave the waters to negotiate their packages at that time.
But as someone who coaches and trains business professionals all over the world, let me give you some inspiration as to why you should join the few who decide to take that plunge. When you negotiate your salary, you are demonstrating to your manager that you are confident and comfortable discussing your value and worth. This kind of communication is likely what helped your land the job in the first place, so keep building on this foundation of strength. Your courage to initiate what many consider a difficult conversation is what will set you apart, establish you as a leader and position you for promotion.
Consider, too, the other side of the coin. What happens if you simply accept, without any discussion, whatever salary or benefits package is set before you? You may be considered a follower rather than a leader. Even worse, depending on what you receive, you may be accepting a salary far below the market or your needs. Imagine, for instance, that you accept a wage 10pc beneath your desired salary. If you’re later provided an average cost of living increase of 4pc annually, it will take you more than two years to attain your original desired starting point.
For those reasons and more, the positives of negotiating outweigh the negatives. So, let’s explore how to be as successful as possible during this process, even if you don’t move the monetary dial as high as you envision.
- Understand your value
You are valuable as an employer investment. You have more leverage than you may realize. Don’t forget to factor in your years of experience, level of education, leadership and other related skills as part of that leverage.
The events that shaped our lives during pandemic and now beyond have promoted both employers and employees to examine their career opportunities, culture, values and their lives. What is important to you? You likely want to be in a company that makes a difference. Employers, too, are looking for people who can positively influence their teams. That is a value in of itself. Seek to define that.
- Do your research
While you’re putting a value to your own worth, conduct some research on the value of your potential new employer. Can you determine how badly they were affected during lockdown? Many companies lost revenue. If so, how are they doing today? Other companies continued to chart financial growth during the pandemic. They hired new team members, granted promotions, paid increases and even provided year-end bonuses.
Try to conduct your research from as many sources as possible. Also consider asking some of these questions as part of your interview. This will set you up nicely for your package negotiation.
- Prepare and practice your negotiation conversation
I work with my clients to understand that even their most seemingly informal, off-hand conversations become a part of their brand. Therefore, please understand that if you ultimately accept your new offer, your negotiation conversation will become a part of your employer’s perception about you. Your conversations are not neutral. They are positive or negative. Knowing this, seek to make this conversation a positive one.
Start off with gratitude. Once you’ve been offered the job, thank your manager. HR professional and whoever else was part of the process. If you are asked what your anticipated salary would be, don’t limit yourself to a single number. State a range with a spread of about 10,000. Make sure your bottom range number is something you can live realistically live with. Don’t low-ball yourself here.
- Summarize your qualifications
Remember how I suggested you understand your value? Well, here is where you need to not only understand this, but also be able to articulate it. Write out your points of distinction and rehearse these lines out loud. The more you can be clear and confident here, the stronger your case will be.
- Make suggestions beyond money
This is your opportunity to suggest a range of benefits and ideas beyond the salary range you have already proposed.
Consider discussing a possible signing bonus to compensate for accepting a lower salary than what you suggested. Can you nail down a work from home schedule? Vacation days? Are there any other perks that your employer can come up with? Ask them for their own creative ideas.
This is not a competition that you have to win in one. But rather, I encourage you to enter in this conversation as a way to establish yourself as an engaged and active employee who is a confident and courageous leader – not only for your teams, but also for yourself. If you keep your composure, you will be planting positive conversation and leadership seeds that will grow over time -whether or not you score the salary and benefits package of your wildest dreams.