At 3PM Tracey Burns, CEO at Northeast HR Association, talked about something we all struggle with - negotiating a job offer. I think especially coming out of an academic research environment where we constantly have the impostor syndrome that we are not really that great, we undervalue our worth in the market and are just happy to get a job that allows us to eat avocados for breakfast on a daily basis!
Tracey mentioned that only 25% of the applicants negotiate their offer, and in that 25%, it's more men than women. Most of the time people don't want to negotiate because of the fear of a conflict. However, you should negotiate because (1) you will be happy and the employer would also want you to be happy, and (2) if you don't then you will be perceived as a passive person who will just take whatever is given to them.
So there's a list of things in a job offer that is negotiable. Some of the most likely ones are the base salary, bonus, perks, title, start date, location and flexible hours. The ones that are less likely to pass are paid time off, or things like long term career option; and the least likely ones are the health and medical benefits, retirement, reporting structure, and as I found out through the Q&A session - parental leave. Usually parental leave is company policy, so that's something that is the same for all employees and cannot be changed for individuals.
The one thing you should find out before you negotiate is your market value/ your worth. You can find the market value of jobs similar to the ones you are looking for on glassdoor or from friends or colleagues. In addition, evaluate what you are bringing to the table in terms of experience and skills, not in an emotional sense but in terms of the market value of those skills. And most importantly, while you are gathering all this data, ask yourself constantly if this is the job you really want. That will save you and the employer a lot of valuable time.
When you are negotiating, just be careful that you do it in a respectful manner. As Tracey said, it's not about winning. Even if you do win, remember that you will have to work with these people the next week. In addition, try to get the company to disclose a range of salary instead of spilling the numbers that you are aiming for. For example, if the company offers you 70K and you were looking for 80K, ask them if there is some wiggle room or flexibility in that salary instead of saying you wanted 80K. For all you know, the company might have been willing to go up to 90K.
Another important tip: it doesn't matter if it's the best job offer ever, do not take it on the spot! Take 2 days to sleep over it or discuss - that's the rule of thumb. Also, DO NOT negotiate over email. Tone is very important and that gets lost or mis-interpreted in an e-mail.
Once again, useful things I learned from the Q&A session:
- Government jobs are usually fixed in their salary and benefits
- If you get a job offer that is in the salary range you are looking for, still think about other things to negotiate that will make your life better.
- If the company makes the offer by saying that this is their salary range (which is below the market value) and asks if you still wish to proceed, think about other negotiable factors that are not the salary that could make your life better - such as a car, or days to work from home.
- If you are fresh out of grad school or undergrad, you can still leverage the leadership and communication skills that you had during your school life. Everything that you have done counts in the skills that you have developed.
Finally, Tracey has published a book called Before and After Resume, where she took 25 really bad resumes and turned them into great ones. Connect with Tracey on LinkedIn for more professional tips!