How To Negotiate An Offer by Melissa Hosken

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It is the final hurdle in the recruitment process, but one that can become unnecessarily complex and even result in a retraction, rather than become the happy occasion it should be!

To keep things straightforward there are some simple do’s and don’ts to ensure a smooth ride to the finish line!

DO

Consider what you would like an offer to look like before interviewing for a role: While it can be tempting to consider any position at your dream company, it can end in disappointment if you negotiate an offer and role isn’t ultimately what you want.

Be realistic about the sort of increase you can expect: Many roles have a salary band rather than a specific number. If your present salary is significantly lower than the top end, or there are other elements to the remuneration package such as bonus and other benefits, you will be offered an increase to your current package, though it is unlikely it will be the highest base salary available. Often bands are set to allow for candidates of different experience levels to be considered, so if they decide to select someone who needs training or to grow into the role, the salary will reflect this.

Remember it is not all about the money:  Moving to a new role solely to achieve a salary increase, rarely results in ‘happily ever after’. Whilst being underpaid compared to your peers at other firms can be frustrating, which can lead to other things such as feeling underappreciated and unrecognised, it shouldn’t blind side you. Ultimately you should be looking for a role that allows you to add to your experience, take you where you want to go in your career and give you a promotion to the next level. Also beware of the offer that may seem too good to be true; if you are achieving a major salary increase with a move, consider how this may translate in reality. Be aware that this could mean increased hours, expectations and pressure, so be sure this is what you want.

Be transparent if you have received a counter offer: If you are worth your weight in gold at your present firm, it is only natural they will want to do all they can to keep you.  If you have been offered a salary increase, but don’t see any change to the role or your prospects, this is not a reason to stay. If you will end up with a lower salary if you move, it is worth mentioning this to the future employer, but also be very clear that their job is your preferred option so it doesn’t come across as game playing! Often an offer can be increased (especially if you ask nicely), but if it can’t, carefully consider if a move is actually going to be more beneficial in the long run. The increase you could achieve today with your current firm, may not be as high as the salary or bonus you could achieve a year down the line with a new employer.

DON’T

Lie about your current salary to increase your offer: The truth is always revealed in the end!  All future employers are entitled to basic information from a previous employer, which includes the dates you were employed from and to, job title and leaving salary. By the time this information is obtained, you will have resigned from your current role and could find yourself high and dry!

Look for a new role if you don’t intend to move: The professional way to achieve a pay rise is to have a discussion with a current employer before you start a job search. Interviewing in order to check out the market and use an offer to force a pay rise, is not the best method. Not only could you burn bridges with a company you may wish to work for in the future, but the plan could also backfire and you might be out on your ear and forced into a role you never really wanted.


Go to an interview thinking you can increase the salary to the level you want: Whilst salary can be open to negotiation, it is a mistake to go to an interview when a budget is fixed at below the level you would consider. Being transparent about your expectation is important from the start. Pitching yourself in at one level in order to get an interview, but have other ideas when you get to offer, will cause unnecessary problems!


Think that all offers can be negotiated: A client will have given careful consideration to the offer they put to you. Your current remuneration will have been considered and the offer will reflect both what you are bringing to the company and also any gaps in your experience. A first offer can be a final offer and it can put noses out of joint to negotiate. By all means, have a conversation if you don’t feel an offer is fair, but tread carefully and put yourself in the employer’s position.


Don’t start a bidding war: Recognise you are in a privileged position if you have more than one offer on the table. Consider the content of each role and what it will offer you in the long term. Going back to a company to negotiate salary just because another firm has offered you more is rarely acceptable. Worse still is being too vocal about the offers youanticipate from elsewhere in order to pressurise an employer to offer more than they are comfortable with.


Don’t keep an employer waiting for an answer: Just as it can be off putting waiting for news of an interview or offer, equally an employer will question your interest the longer you keep them hanging for a response! The sensible approach is to ask for some time to think and agree how long this will be. It should be appreciated that moving jobs is often a big decision and one that is important to get right.

Till next time,

Isobel