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Here’s the Deal: How to Negotiate a Job Offer

negotiate a job offer

Here’s the Deal: How to Negotiate a Job Offer

You got a new job! Awesome. Congratulations. Or, an offer for a new job, anyway. Still great, but if you haven’t accepted yet, you want to be sure to negotiate a job offer. And it’s not all about money (although, hey, that’s part of it.)

negotiate a job offer

Here are tips to negotiate a job offer.

First, it’s actually not all about the Benjamins. Yes, money matters. But there are two ways of thinking about your offer.

Consider one part cash: your salary, any signing bonus or annual bonus potential. Also include any contributions to a 401(k) plan. That’s the money you need to live on day to day, the money you get once per year, and the money going toward retirement.

Then there’s ‘almost’ everything else: vacation days, health insurance, benefits such as long term or short term disability, gym discounts, a company phone, commuter benefits, whatever else is worth something, but is not actual cash.

Besides the two groups above, you want to leave some room to consider even softer parts of the job offer. This could include being able to telecommute, or discounts on the company’s products or services (for example, many airline employees enjoy free and almost free standby travel), or your title, or job responsibilities. Maybe the chance to lead a team is worth more than another 5% in salary. (Or, not.)

So, now you have the basis for the parts of the offer. So, how do you negotiate? First of all, consider what’s really important to you. Cash isn’t everything, but you want to be clear about what your expenses are and whether you can comfortably meet them.

If not, you probably owe it to yourself to have an honest conversation with your potential employer and at least negotiate a job offer that pays enough to alleviate the stress of making the rent (and everything else). And keep in mind that 5% might make all the difference to you, but is not a lot more money to them.

Once you get past the cash, you have to prioritize everything else. Health insurance might trump everything else – and you may be able to (politely) ask about the cost of premiums. On the other hand, you might really care about flexibility – being able to work from home twice a week, or leave in time to pick up your children might be what you want to discuss.

Try to negotiate a job offer if you’re disappointed, but also be realistic.

You need to know the culture of the company and the requirements of the job. If it’s a retail position, it’s probably less likely you can have flexible hours. On the other hand, if you are bringing far more than the minimum experience required, you might have a better chance of asking for money.

If you are working with a placement agency or headhunter, ask for help. They’ll at least know what is typical for the industry, at least, and maybe for that specific company. Just be sure to ask for what is realistic when you negotiate a job offer. Then, go celebrate.