The current economic downturn and high unemployment rate have, no doubt, created the common mind-set of “If you have a job offer, don’t be picky. Just take it.” These are the words of a friend of mine when she got an offer at a well-known biotech company recently. She felt that she was not in the position to negotiate or be picky in this economy or she will lose the offer, which is her first job after graduate school.
Squeaky Wheel Gets The Oil
Let’s get this straight. Not being picky does not mean you should not negotiate. In fact, avoiding negotiation will give your future employer the impression that you won’t fight hard to get what you deserve. And if you won’t fight for yourself, why should your future employer believe that you would fight for them? The fact is that every potential employer expects you to negotiate. It is part of the hiring routine. There are plenty of resources out there that teach negotiation skills. I encourage you to do some research and learn them.
What Is In An Offer?
Before you can negotiate, you need to critically evaluate the job offer. My friend, who did not negotiate, just took the offer when she saw that the base salary was much higher than she had expected and thought, “I should not be greedy.” When I asked her about other benefits such as 401K contribution, vesting period, relocation compensation, and signing bonus, she had no idea that she should know about these other components. It is true that you don’t want to be greedy, but you have the full right to know your other compensation and their schedules (once you have received the formal offer letter).
On the surface, these benefits may not appear as critical. But think about, for example, health insurance. If there is a 3-month vesting period (the amount of time before your insurance is effective after your first day at work), that means you will need to cover those three months yourself. So, consider all the inconveniences incurred from taking an offer, sum them up, and use them as your bargaining chip. Laura Adams, the host of Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips podcast, has a great episode discussing the six categories you should consider when evaluating a job offer (click to listen to podcast). They are:
- Base salary, commission, and bonus
- Expenses associated with work
- Time and flexibility
- Career path
- Work environment
What if they say no? Then you had nothing to lose. At least you have tried, and the offer still stands. But if they say yes, congratulations, you have just got yourself a raise, directly or indirectly. You will also feel great about this accomplishment, which will make you more comfortable with negotiations in the future. Make sure you have done your homework researching the salary and benefits for similar positions in your industry at your geographic location before any negotiation.
I hope this post will help you get all the compensation you deserve in your next career move. Share your experience with me in your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. In closing, I will leave you with You’ve Got to Reap What You Sow by Barbara Dane and the Chambers Brothers. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or ask me questions about a specific area of my experience. Until next post, keep on sizing up!