By: Julia Bellotti
You did it! You sent in hundreds of applications, you’ve done tens of phone interviews, landed a handful of in-person interviews and now you have a job offer. After all your hard work, you may think you should just take what you’ve been offered and call it a day; after all, you’re sure there are other applicants who would take the salary they offered.
A 2015 study conducted by NerdWallet and Looksharp “found that 62 percent of recent graduates didn’t negotiate their salary at all even though 84 percent of employers said they had room to bump of their original offer—and even though ‘most of them’ expected to do so.” I spoke with David Fletcher, the Director of Career Development at the School of International Service, American University to get the full scoop on job offer negotiation.
Should you negotiate?
Mr. Fletcher explained to me that “Salary negotiation is an expectation on the part of the employer” and that they usually have about 10% wiggle room. Their goal is to get their top-choice candidate hired and committed to working for the company long-term.
You may think that another candidate will take the offer at face value and you’re right, they could. However, as Mr. Fletcher explained, companies don’t want their second or third-choice candidates. They chose you as their first choice for a reason: “They’re not looking for the bargain candidate; they’re looking for the best candidate.”
John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and author of The Success Code, says that a job offer is when an employer “has psychologically committed to you, and it is a critical moment.” This is the moment when you could be deciding your pay and benefits for the next 2-3 (or more) years; use it.
What can be negotiated?
A whole lot more than you may expect.
Negotiating a job offer isn’t just about the base salary. You can also negotiate the following:
Another increasingly popular benefit is teleworking; however, without established trust, an employer may have a difficult time granting you teleworking capability right away. This could be something negotiated 6 months to a year down the road once your supervisor trusts your work and you’ve demonstrated your abilities.
So HOW do I negotiate?
Now that you’ve figured out what you want to negotiate, you need to make sure you ask the right way. David Fletcher recommends giving Human Resources a phone call rather than try to negotiate over email. If you receive an offer in-person, ask to review all the benefits and get back to them by X date by phone.
“Never do a negotiation by email”
Sample language for negotiating (courtesy of Mr. Fletcher):
If you’re looking to negotiate several benefits, Harvard Business Review recommends being upfront about everything you request and signaling to the company which benefits are a priority to you. “Otherwise, [they] may pick the two things you value least, because they’re pretty easy to give you, and feel she’s met you halfway. Then you’ll have an offer that’s not much better and a negotiating partner who thinks her job is done.”
“The key is, always ask,” says Mr. Fletcher. Employers make offers all the time and asking is only asking. After the first time, it gets much easier and you will have gained confidence and a new skill.