How I Get People $10,000 More In Compensation — Every Time

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Dear Eli,

What do you think are the best ways to negotiate a new job offer? I personally get really nervous and am afraid to ask for more as I’m scared they might take the offer back. What do you think?

Carla G.

 

Dear Carla,

As you can well imagine, I hear this quite often. I must admit, that until I came to my current position, nobody ever taught me about the art of salary negotiations. All these years I could have made thousands of dollars more. Who knew? However, now I am going to let you in on a secret. If you are not negotiating, odds are you are leaving money behind on the table. Who wouldn’t want $10,000 more per year, 10% more of an original offer, or more stock options?

Let’s start off with some facts for your consideration.

Interviewing candidates costs a company a great deal of money. The process is long and arduous. A company has to create a job description, post it, pay someone to review resumes and then pay someone else to do an initial phone screen. Then, most companies typically have an interview process which include several people and/or committees. By the time an offer is being provided, think of how many human capital hours has been spent to get a candidate in the door. It is not worth it for a company to be stingy at this point and to start the process all over again. About 98 percent of the time, a company will be willing to negotiate or will say, “Unfortunately we will be holding firm at this number.”

It is extremely rare for a company to rescind an offer. If they did, would you want to work for a company like that?

Following are some major tips for you when negotiating.

TRY TO NEVER THROW OUT THE FIRST NUMBER

If you throw out a salary expectation, you may be low-balling yourself, which of course, is to the companies benefit. Reciprocally, if you ask too high, you may be far out of their range. Here is what I recommend.

If you are on a phone screen and they ask you, “How much are you looking to make?”  you might want to say something like,

“Right now it’s too early in the process to discuss salary. However, when we get to that point, I will be looking at Glassdoor and the marketplace and I am sure we will find something that will be a win-win for everyone.”

In this sample, you do not give a number, but do offer the opportunity to continue dialogue together when the time is right.

If they require you to provide a number, a good response would be,

“Based on what I am seeing online and in the marketplace, I will be looking for the $XXX,XXX range.  However, for me, it is about the culture and fit, and I am sure we will find something that will work for both of us.”

Note: You do not want to say between the 90-100k range.  If you say that, guess which salary option a company will go for? The lower. Instead, try to use one number as a “range”, ie. The $95k range.  Also, note the “we will find something” statement. Using the word “we” opens the door to collaboration and continued dialogue. It shows you are willing to work with the company to find a great solution. For me, it is the “kiss up” at the end.

If you are at an on-site and the salary question comes up, again I recommend to not throw out a number. For this scenario you might want to say the following: 

“I am sure your company will offer me a salary that will be fair and competitive based on the current market.”

And, again, if they make you throw out a number you will want to go back to the following:

“Based on what I am seeing on Glassdoor and the marketplace, I am looking for the $XXXk range. However, for me it is about the culture and the fit and I am sure we can find a win-win solution.

THE VERBAL OFFER:  TRY NOT TO TALK ON THE PHONE. GET THINGS IN WRITING. ASK FOR TIME!

Here is the truth. People often get nervous discussing any compensation packages, let alone $10,000 more in compensation or 10% more than the original offer. Again, there is a fear an employer will rescind an offer, which 99% of the time does not happen. Your ultimate goal is to ask for time and to do all negotiating in writing.

Asking for time allows you to interview at other companies but just make sure you do it quickly. While you have an offer, it is easier to get more interviews. Often, companies try to push people into making a decision. Try not to let that happen to you.

If you get a verbal offer, you might want to say something like, “That is really exciting. I will be looking forward to reviewing the package. This is a great opportunity and life decision that I will be discussing with my (family/partner/friend).” You want to ask for time.

THEN, if you have any pending interviews with other companies you are interested in, you should be emailing them immediately.

“Hey Company X, I do want to let you know that I have recently received an offer.  However, you are my top choice company (wink wink) and I am wondering if we might be able to expedite the process as it would be great to meet your team.”

You DO want to get in a bidding war for your talents!

Once you receive an offer, and sometimes it might only be a verbal offer, you definitely want to follow up in email. Here is a sample:

Dear Pat,

I am really excited about joining your team at Company X. I enjoyed meeting everyone and I do believe this is a great culture and fit and am excited to contribute to the _______.

I did want to be transparent to let you know, that based on my previous experience and what I am seeing online on Glassdoor, I was hoping to make ($10k more than what was offered).  (NOTE: YOU CAN ALSO WRITE I did want to let you know that I do have another offer on the table that I am reviewing) I am also wondering if there might be an opportunity for a signing bonus.  If we can get to $XXX I would be able to make my decision quicker/immediately.

THEN DON’T FORGET THE KISS-UP AT THE END IN WRITING

“At the end of the day, it really is about the culture and fit for me, and I am sure we will be able to find an agreement that will be a win-win for everyone. I am excited to hear back from you and to continue our conversation.”

In this email, this is the time to ask/negotiate the following, to get that $10,000, more in compensation (at least):

  • Do you want more stock options? Is that important to you?
  • Most companies only offer two weeks of vacation. If they do not give you more money, can you negotiate for more vacation? Or negotiate for a “work from home” situation?
  • What are the health benefits? Is there a 401K? Is there money for transit or for the gym?
  • What is their bonus or performance review policy?

Again, try to ask for time and do try to keep discussions in writing whenever possible.

Finally, there is a saying we use that “You can’t wink at someone in the dark.” Think about the hot person across the room you want to meet. While this is a humorous quote, the idea here is that if you do not ask for something, how will they know you want it? Nobody ever is going to manage your career better than you. There is no problem in asking. So depending on your own personal situation, you need to decide on what you value as your “needs” versus your “wants” versus your “nice-to-haves” to help you get what matters to you the most.

Good luck!

Eli Blair

 

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