handshake_1Ah… that magic moment when it’s time talk turkey and negotiate a job offer. Many job seekers are nervous, clueless, or both about how to negotiate a job offer. In order to negotiate the best possible deal, here are some tips:

  1. Don’t Discuss Salary Expectations Up Front – in initial interviews, if asked about what you are expecting to make say nothing specific! Don’t give a range, a big number, a little number, etc. Simply say, “I’m currently earning X, and for me this move is more about the opportunity. I’d assume that if you make me an offer it would be competitive.” At the end of the interview process, the onus is on the employer to make an offer. The general rule of how to negotiate is that he who speaks first loses. By telling them what you want, you are essentially negotiating against yourself.
  2. Assume The Initial Offer Is Negotiable – it’s very likely that there is room to negotiate the initial offer. Before doing this, you should carefully compare all aspects of the offer to your current compensation. You should also do research on the job market at your level and within your field. To negotiate properly, you need to consider factors like commuting costs, employee benefits, etc. Try to determine how the offer compares to your current compensation, and the overall market for your skills and experience before attempting to negotiate.
  3. Negotiate For More? – if you are very excited about going to work for the new employer, and the offer is strong as-is, just accept it! However, if the offer is weak compared to your current compensation, or weak compared to a well researched market analysis, don’t be afraid to negotiate and ask for more. At this point, you probably have some idea as to what it will take for you to accept the job. If the offer is significantly below your expectations, you may want to be more aggressive in how you negotiate. Conversely, if the offer is pretty solid, you may still ask for more, but be careful of how hard you push for more.
  4. EVERYTHING is negotiable! Keep in mind that you can negotiate more than just your salary . Bonus, vacation time, stock options, etc. are all potentially negotiable. Let’s say you ask for a higher salary and the employer says “no”. You might go back and negotiate an extra week of vacation. Alternatively, you may ask them to grant you an early performance review whereby you’ll have a chance to prove yourself at the job for 3-6 months and then get a compensation increase if they are satisfied with your performance.