You wanted this job so bad, and finally the offer arrived. The adrenaline is flowing freely, and you feel like sharing the good news with the entire world—certainly with those who contributed to your win. But is this job a really good deal? Could you have gotten a better deal if you only knew how?
The majority of people simply melt once they get a coveted job offer. They’re so grateful and they feel so saved that they think that by crossing the finish line, their goal has been attained. However, that is not the case. A job offer is a significant milestone indeed, but negotiating your best deal right now is the only time you can do it. You’re now in the falling-in-love period—like when you were in your teens and falling in love and your love interest could do no wrong and was simply perfect. Well, once the company you’ve applied to goes through the arduous and protracted hiring process and decided on you as the winner, they want to move on. At this point, they don’t want to go back to square one and start the process all over. That’s the time to negotiate.
Compensation negotiation is a six-step process. First, identify what’s important for you—for example, size of company, reputation, challenge, work-life balance, and your future manager. Second, carefully examine the offer by talking to as many people as you can who can provide relevant information about your areas of interest concerning the company and the job. Third, compare the offer with your priorities by writing down your thoughts. Consider the pluses and minuses, and prioritize them. Then do the same by writing down your feelings and emotions about taking this job.
Fourth, you must perform your due diligence by defining your dealing points and your deal-breaking points. Be truthful to yourself, but stay flexible. Remember that it’s not the money that you make but the money you keep. So review in detail the package of company-paid benefits. I can think of at least 20 different items in such a package—from medical coverage to tuition reimbursement.
Fifth, negotiate your best deal. Most companies expect you to do that. Show an unusual level of excitement about the opportunity, but register disappointment with the compensation. As a career coach, I train clients by practicing mock negotiations together with them. Initially, during such mock negotiations, many people feel awkward, but after we do this a few times, they learn this new skill.
The sixth and final step is to make the decision. Consult with your spouse, advisers, and career coach. If you’re a high-level executive, you may want to consult with a lawyer and a financial adviser as well.
A job offer should be executed in writing and with the parties signing it. At some small companies, the process is much simpler, and if there’s no written document to sign, it still behooves you to summarize your understanding of the compensation and document it via e-mail.