Let Me Teach You How to Negotiate Your Offer

Let Me Teach You How to Negotiate Your Offer

A person accepting an offer that was successfully negotiated

Hello Again! So, you were able to write an effective resume, you applied to your dream job, you made it through the interview process, and just now you received a call from the recruiter who extended you a verbal offer! What’s next? This week I will be teaching you how to negotiate your offer if it is necessary.

First things first, make sure you take notes during your verbal offer! Any time you receive a message from a recruiter asking to follow up with you after your interview, be prepared to have a pen and paper nearby in case they are going to extend a verbal offer.

You will receive your verbal offer first. If you accept, then your written offer letter will be sent to you shortly after. Read your offer letter from top to bottom at least three times. Did they send you their benefits package? Review the entire benefits package as well! Make sure you fully understand your entire offer before signing. Here is a list of things you will want to be aware of:

  • Start Date
  • Manager – Who you will be reporting to?
  • Your future title
  • Annual salary rate
  • Bonus (eligibility and amount)
  • Is there a sign on bonus? (If it was advertised on the job description it should be included on your offer letter)
  • Medical / Dental / Vision benefits, etc., and when they kick in
  • Location of role (Will you have to relocate, is it work from home, hybrid, etc.?)
  • Are they offering a Relocation Package? (If applicable)
  • Paid Time Off (PTO) How much and how does it accrue?
  • Is there a trial period? Is it a contract position? What is At-Will Employment?

Double-check to make sure everything is listed on your written offer as it was told to you during the verbal offer or interview process. Be aware that not everything on this list will be negotiable. I will go over what is negotiable, describe what to do if you do indeed need to negotiate and give you advice on when I think it is appropriate to negotiate. If everything reads correctly, as in the title and start date looks good, they offered you more than you asked for, etc. – then you probably don’t have to negotiate a thing. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to read the rest of this article if you don’t want to! Congratulations! (But you may still find some of this info helpful.)

If there are things you would like to negotiate, keep reading to hear my best advice on how to do so and hopefully get the results you are looking for.

Start Date – NEGOTIABLE! Chances are they can be flexible with your start date as long as it is only a few weeks after what is listed on your offer letter. If for some reason you need a few months, they may have to rescind the offer and go with their 2nd pick. If you are eager to start and want a sooner date, then there is no harm in asking. Keep in mind that it often takes a few weeks to get you onboarded and, in the system, before you begin, so they may not be able to offer you a sooner start date. When renegotiating the start date give them a reason why i.e. “I will need to give my current employer an extra week for turnover,” or “My family and I had a vacation planned for the week after my start date, I would prefer to start after my vacation than to have to take a week off at the beginning of my employment.” In most cases, the recruiter and the hiring manager will understand.

Manager – Not Negotiable. Chances are you interviewed with your hiring manager during the interview process and were well aware of who you would be reporting to upon starting. In some cases, there may be some leadership changes happening soon after you arrive, but they should have let you know ahead of time and had the person who was taking over interview you as well. If your offer letter has a name listed of a person you have never heard of then be sure to double-check with the recruiter to make sure it is correct and find out the details. You can even request to speak with the new person before accepting your offer.

Title – Not Negotiable. If you interviewed for a Manager of Supply Chain role then you should have received an offer for a Manager of Supply Chain position. Most of the time you are not able to negotiate the title, you would have to apply to a completely different opening for a different title and have to meet a different set of qualifications. If for some reason, they decided to bring you in at a lower or higher level than what you interviewed for then that should have been communicated with you before receiving an offer. Make sure the title is correct on your offer letter.

Pay or Salary – NEGOTIABLE! Ok, so there is some mixed advice out there on negotiating for a higher salary. There are some coaches that will say you should always ask for more. I disagree. If the company offered within the middle or high end of your range or above what you asked for, I don’t think there is any reason to try to ask for more. This could reflect negatively on you and could possibly lead to them rescinding the offer if they believe you will decline unless they can match your new request. Especially if you ask for an increase well above what was originally discussed. This is why you will want to know exactly what to ask for in the beginning.

I definitely think it is worth asking for more if you found out new information about the role during the interview process and after your HR screen where you gave your desired salary range. Maybe you found out you will have several more direct reports than originally known. Or you thought you would only have to come into the office once a month but they would prefer you to come in once a week and you will have a really long commute. Whatever your reason is you will want to share the “Why” with them. For instance, “I really appreciate your offer and would like to accept. However, I do have one request. Since I will be commuting into the office more often than I originally understood I would like to request an increase of $XX to help cover the extra cost of gas and mileage.” If you are relocating to an area that has a higher cost of living but you are being offered an amount similar to what you already make, this is a great reason for you to negotiate your pay. I have definitely seen pay negotiations work for candidates in the past but only for the ones who had a fair reason why they were requesting an increase.

Try to refrain from saying things like “Any chance I could get a little more? I was told you should always ask.” In most cases, the recruiter, hiring manager, and compensation department worked together to determine the fairest amount they could possibly offer. Another thing to check when it comes to your pay is whether you will be paid hourly or salary. If hourly, what are the rules surrounding overtime? Are you guaranteed a certain number of hours per week? If salaried, try to find out what the average work week looks like. If you are getting paid $50,000 a year but working 60 hours a week, are you ok with that? This is where you will want to read reviews from the company’s employees or check with your network of people who already work there. You can also ask the hiring manager or recruiter how many hours per week the members of your new team typically average.

Bonus – Maybe Negotiable – At larger companies or corporations there will be a set bonus structure that all employees adhere to, and the amount of your bonus cannot be changed. Bonuses are usually paid out based on your performance as well as the company’s performance. As long as you and the company are doing well then you may see a higher bonus than listed on your offer. Vice versa for poor individual or company performance. Find out the details, as in what the bonus is based on or if it is a set amount that will not change based on individual and company performance. You will also want to find out when you are eligible to receive your bonus. In some cases, if you start after October, you will not receive a bonus your first year, or you may receive a prorated bonus. Chances are that in the first year you may not receive a full annual bonus until you have worked there an entire year. You will also want to see how often bonuses are distributed. Is it monthly, quarterly, annually, or even randomly (called spot bonuses)? Another thing to consider is if you will receive a percentage of your salary or a set amount each year. These are great questions to ask if you are curious to know more about the bonus structure.

Sign-On Bonus – Maybe Negotiable – Did the job posting list a Sign-On Bonus? If so find out when that is to be paid out. Sometimes you may have to wait until 30 days after your start date or you may receive half up front and the other half in increments. Ask your recruiter about the details surrounding your sign-on bonus. There have been a few times when I saw someone ask for a pay increase but were instead gifted a sign-on bonus. Again, you will have to have a reason why if you plan on asking for this. For instance, “Since I will be leaving my current company before March 15th, I will miss out on my annual bonus of $X amount. Is it possible to receive a sign-on bonus in the amount of $X for this reason? Or can I negotiate my start date so that I may still receive my annual bonus from my current company?” This is an instance where I think it is appropriate to negotiate.

Medical / Dental / Vision Benefits – Not Negotiable – I get asked about this a lot, especially from those retiring from the military who will be receiving TRICARE. Unfortunately, if you will not be signing up for medical benefits with your new company you cannot receive that difference as additional pay. Luckily, you will already be saving money by not having to pay an insurance premium so you will already be ahead of those who do.

If you do need insurance, then you will not be able to negotiate the amount of coverage those benefits offer. Benefits are created through a partnership with the Corporation and the Insurance Company, and everyone is offered the same options for coverage. This will depend on which option you select and the size of your family. But this is an area that could provide a “Why?” when negotiating salary. For instance, “Since I will need to start paying a premium for insurance, whereas I did not have to in the military, I would like to ask for an increase in pay for $X to cover the cost of the monthly premium and annual deductible.”

When you receive your benefits package, it will have these amounts listed so you can figure out the additional amount to ask for. If you will be paying $200 a month for your premium and have a $3,000 deductible for in-network doctors you will want to ask for a $5,400 annual increase to cover these additional expenses. If your current doctors are out of network then you will want to see what the deductible is for out-of-network doctors, which will be higher. If that is $6,000 then you will want to ask for an $8,400 annual increase. These are things I wish I would have known during my transition from the military. I was shocked when I received my first paycheck at a full-time employer and saw that they were taking hundreds of dollars out of my check each month for my insurance premiums. I had not budgeted for that so try to have an idea of what your insurance premium costs will be per year when determining your salary range.

Location of Role – Maybe Negotiable – The location of your role should be communicated to you during the interview process so you will most likely already have an idea of whether this role is expected to be onsite, work from home, or hybrid. Depending on the nature of the role you may be able to ask your manager if you can work from home a few days a week. This may end up being only a verbal agreement between you and your manager but see if they are able to add it to your offer letter.

Relocation Package – Not Negotiable – In my experience, your relocation package will be determined by the level of your new role. This means that the same relocation package is offered to everyone at that level, and you may not be able to negotiate any of these offerings. The relocation policy and package should have been discussed with you either during your phone screen with the recruiter, or when they were extended the verbal offer. This paperwork should also be sent along with your written offer. The one thing you may be able to negotiate is when you relocate. If you need more time or prefer to relocate after your kids are out of school, then you may be able to ask for an extension for when you have to relocate.

Paid Time Off (PTO) – Maybe Negotiable – And that is a big maybe! I cannot recall a time when one of my candidates was successfully able to negotiate extra time off, but I do believe I have heard of it happening. Most larger companies have a policy set for this and will not be able to negotiate additional time off. One example of when you may be able to persuade them: You are leaving a company that offered 5 weeks of paid time off and this company only offers 3 weeks. Especially if you were “head-hunted” by a recruiter away from a company you have been with for several years and were receiving extra weeks of time off due to tenure. The chances for this are slim but could be worth a shot. Personally, I have tried this in the past and was unsuccessful. However, you will want to find out how Paid Time Off is accrued and when you are eligible to start accruing. Will you have to wait 30 days? Do you receive 5 hours of PTO per pay period? Are you able to go in the negative (in the event that you have a trip planned a few months after starting but won’t have a whole week’s worth of time off accrued by then)? Make sure you understand the vacation policy prior to starting.

Other things to be on the lookout for when you receive your offer: Is there a trial period when starting? For instance, will you not be officially employed until you have successfully gotten through the first 30 days? I don’t see this often but if that is the case it should be listed on your offer letter. Is this a contract position, meaning it has a start and end date, or a full-time position, meaning you work there indefinitely? Also, I have received questions about “At-Will Employment” in the past. This means that an employer can let an employee go without reason or warning. This term may be new to you if you are recently transitioned from the military. Click on the link above to find out what the laws are in your state.

Expect a delay. Creating an offer takes time. A lot of this time is due to receiving approval from various decision-makers, such as the hiring manager and their boss, as well as the compensation department. It may take a few days to hear back from the recruiter and to have the new offer letter drafted. Do make sure you receive and sign the most recent offer letter with the discussed updates.

What happens next? Once you are happy with your offer after changes have been made you will need to officially accept the offer. Be sure to accept the written offer following the instructions listed by the recruiter. This usually consists of clicking on a button that says “Accept” and providing a digital signature. There may be some companies that still require you to print off your offer letter and provide a wet signature that you either have to scan and email back or send in the mail. Also, know the date of when you need to accept. This could be a week or two but be sure to accept before this date. Be aware of the proper steps to take to accept your offer. Feel free to ask your recruiter if you are unclear about the process.

There you go! Hopefully, this article gives you the tools you need to successfully negotiate your offer. In short, don’t be afraid to negotiate but always have a reason why you are asking for more or asking for a change. And always, always, always be clear on the details discussed in this article before signing your offer letter. Hopefully, I didn’t make any of my recruiter friends want to unfriend me after reading this. Ha ha ha! Side note: Offer negotiations are not the most fun thing for recruiters to do. I also want to reiterate that this is only my advice based on my own personal experiences and observations over the past few years. If you have a friend with a legal or HR background, I highly recommend having them, take a look at your offer letter before signing.

Tune in next week where I’ll discuss the Total Compensation Package and go more in-depth on how to determine your salary range. Have a great rest of your week and thanks for reading!

By Bre Cameron

September 7, 2022

Originally posted at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6973290302677688320/ reposted with permission from the author Bre Cameron