The Art of Negotiating the Offer

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All your preparation paid off. Your background is a fit and you clicked in the interview. The company made it clear that they want to hire you. Well done! Now comes the question: What do you do next?  It’s time to discuss the offer.

A conversation about salary with your potential employer can be uncomfortable. Try to wait until the offer is presented before discussing it. Note: those working with a recruiter will have had that conversation before being proposed to the company.

If you’re pursuing a position on your own, you don’t want to limit your earning potential but you also don’t want to ruin your chances of being considered with a number that’s above and beyond the company’s range and expectations. When asked about your salary expectations, it’s okay to be evasive in your response. A standard response could be, “I will consider any competitive offer commensurate with my experience and level of responsibility.”

Like with anything, it helps to do your homework to understand the market and salary ranges for the position.  The more prepared you are, the more confidence you’ll have in negotiating. Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, recommends focusing on the market first and yourself second.

Use multiple resources to find out about the industry, job function, and location to get a good idea about the position’s market rate. Websites such and, as well as job boards, have tools that will calculate approximate salaries for a given position taking into account a number of factors like geography and level of experience.

As you go through the interview process, have three numbers in mind. What would be the salary that would get you really excited? What would be a fair and reasonable salary? And what would be your bottom number (the lowest you would go)?

Know the company’s financials and how they performed over the last few years. If it’s a publicly traded company, this will be easy to locate. For smaller companies, financials will be more difficult to find, but give it a shot. It’s helpful to know, as they may not be in a position of flexibility or generosity with salary unless they’re highly profitable.

Once you receive an offer, wait to give your response. And, take the emotion out of the equation. Thank them for the offer and tell them you’d like some time to think about it. Take a day or more to review the details of the offer carefully. If the offer is less than the 2 or 3 numbers you had in mind and you’re still very interested in the job, get ready to negotiate.

Negotiating is a way to get what you want, and takes into account the wants and needs of the person with whom you’re negotiating. They want someone that they like, who can perform the job, fit in the company culture, and that they can afford. Figure out how to make it a win-win. How would the company benefit by hiring you and what would be your benefit in getting this position and working for them?

Make your case for why you are asking for more. Give examples of the value you bring. For example, you’re offering them a certain number of years of experience in the industry. You’ll have a brief learning curve and can bring value in a short time frame. Because of this, you would like a starting salary of x.

The company may accept your counter offer or meet you somewhere in the middle. If not, you may ask for other things that may compensate for the salary. For example:

– You may need to prove that you’re worth the additional salary amount. Ask for a 6-month performance review with specific goals tied to a salary increase. Make sure the terms are specific, clear, and that there is sign off.

– A signing bonus could sweeten the offer. It’s not the same as a higher salary but it may be easier for a company to do and still comply with their salary bands.

 – Additional vacation may be negotiable

Whether you choose to negotiate is up to you. Companies will typically make the offer on the lower end of the range, expecting to negotiate. Before responding to an offer, consider the entire benefit and compensation package, and compare it to your current package. Weigh everything carefully, including the opportunity and if this would position you for greater potential for future growth. Identify areas that are especially important to you and ask for those first.

Have everything ready to discuss with reasons in asking for more. If you don’t ask, the answer is always, “no.”

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Uli Stewart is the recruiting manager at Vantage Point Recruiting.

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