Negotiating An Employment Offer by Frank M. Jay

An offer of employment…whether it is accepted or not…is the objective that a candidate is seeking when he or she interviews for a position with a future employer.  It may offer opportunity, change, personal growth and an increase in compensation. 

Obviously, when an offer of employment is made, you can accept it or reject it based on whether it meets your personal requirements for making a change.  If you have carefully researched and determined your objectives regarding compensation, location, position responsibilities, position title, potential advancement and other factors and it appears that everything works…and if the management team and company style/personality are to your liking, then maybe you accept the offer.  Or maybe one or more of those factors don’t match up with your criteria and you chose to decline to accept.  Regardless, it is neither of those situations that we are discussing here.

What we are about to discuss is how to proceed when that offer of employment is made and you like it…but just not enough to immediately accept it.  Instead, you want to negotiate some changes to the offer.

There are many different approaches to negotiating an employment offer but we believe that…once the offer is made and after you have determined that it needs to be negotiated to include revisions…then the following things should be done:

1) Objectives should be established and reviewed to assure that they are achievable relative to the opportunities offered by the employer.  For example, in regard to compensation, if the salary offer is less than you want it to be and your objective is to increase the offer, you need to consider the original salary range (if discussed) that the potential employer quoted on the position.  You also need to consider the percentage of increase in your salary proposal relative to your current salary (because the potential employer will certainly do so).  Also, if you are required to relocate, you need to consider the cost of living for your current location versus your future location.  These factors and others will help to determine your salary objective to be sure that it offers salary improvement to you while remaining within a range that the potential employer will pay.

2) Objectives should be prioritized so that you know which are the most important and which MUST be achieved.  An example in this case might be that you are willing to forego a desired change in salary (beyond the salary offered) to achieve an increase in relocation expenses or to receive a larger signing bonus.  Another example might be to receive an equity opportunity rather than a possible improvement in position title.  The point here is to know what you want versus what you have to have and also to know what you are willing to give up to get it.

3) A plan or approach should be determined so that you are fully prepared to present your proposed changes in a manner that gives you the best chance to succeed.  At this point, basically you need to decide how you are going to approach the potential employer and what you are going to say.  Are you going to reach out directly…and if you do…are you going to make that contact by phone or email?  If a search firm has been involved in the process, are you going to use them to present your requests?

If you have done these things…you know your objectives, have prioritized them effectively, and you have established a plan for presentation to your future employer…then you have completed the “preparation” part of the process and you are ready to negotiate to achieve your goals.

In our July newsletter, we will discuss the actual negotiation process and the problems and opportunities involved.