Talencio’s Complete Guide to the Job Search: Part 9 – Negotiating the Best Offer

The first step in negotiating the best offer is to ensure the job is the right one for you.  In our blog, “What are You Looking For?”, we share a strategy to ensure you define the right job for you before you interview.  Align the job opportunity with your wants and needs.  If you are checking most or all the boxes, then move to the next stage in negotiating.  

Know your value.

You do not need to provide current salary or your salary history.  However, be prepared to answer the question, “What salary range are you targeting?”  An appropriate answer is, “Any reasonable offer will be considered.”  They may continue to press.  Your current salary will provide a gauge along with other resources like salary.com, payscale.com and glassdoor.com.  Do some digging and know your targeted range before you are asked the question.  If possible, make the hiring manager or recruiter give you the first offer.  If you provide your salary expectation, align it with the value you bring to the job.  

Consider the entire package.

After you clearly understand your requirements and salary range, know what can be negotiated.  While salary is overwhelmingly important, other factors come into play like bonus, equity, health insurance, retirement plans, time off, professional development, professional dues, work from home flexibility, job title, transportation allowance, a one-time sign-on bonus and more.  Ensure you have a complete understanding of all elements of the offer before you negotiate.  

Be positive and polite.

People will negotiate with you if they like you.  Remember that the person with whom you are negotiating, will need to fight for you.  Evaluate how others will perceive your approach, before you actually do it.  

The first offer.

Be careful of being too impressed with the first offer.  Remain neutral and state, “I appreciate the offer.”  Remain polite and positive.  Request two days to discuss the offer at home.  The employer may have a higher authority with a salary cap.  You also have a higher authority in discussing it at home.  You remain on the same footing.  

Open-end questions.  

After considering the offer at home, schedule a call with the employer.  State, “I’m really excited about this offer and after discussing it at home, I was wondering if there was anything more we could do in terms of salary?”  If you say, “I was wondering if we could agree on a slightly higher starting salary?”, they will come back to you with, “What do you have in mind?”  This puts the pressure on them to propose a higher offer.  

Make the case for why you are worth more.  

Your future employer needs to be convinced that you are worth a higher salary.  Share the story to prove it.  Articulate the value you will bring to their company.  Keep the conversation about what you can do for them.  If you ask for more and do not make a case, they may not perceive a return on their investment and your likability will diminish as you may appear arrogant.  

Be serious about the offer.  

As you negotiate, people will expend political or social capital to get approval for your negotiated offer.  If they think you will not accept the offer, they may not go to bat for you.  Be sure you express your sincere interest.  

Understand where the employer has flexibility and their constraints.

Companies may have salary caps.  They may be hiring many people, similar to you, at the same time.  They may have flexibility on personal time off, signing bonuses, titles, start date, etc.  Understand areas of flexibility and constraints to present options that appeal to both sides.  

Prepare for the hard questions.

Following are some: Do you have other offers? If we make you an offer, will you accept? Are we your number one choice?   To avoid saying something awkward, evasive, or untrue, prepare your response ahead of time.  Never lie.  It is unethical and may also come back to hurt you.  Prepare in advance so you do not appear defensive, uncomfortable, or weak.  Answer honestly without giving up too much power.  

Focus on the intent.

If someone comes at you from an unexpected angle, it may not be the question that matters – it may be the intent.  If an employer asks if you would accept an offer tomorrow, he may want to know if you are really interested in the opportunity.  Answer questions based on what you think the intent is.  If you are unclear, ask for clarification of the problem the interviewer is trying to solve.  Then show interest in helping to solve the problem.  

Negotiate all issues at once.

Once you have an offer, articulate your major concerns and identify those of greatest importance.  Don’t negotiate every little detail.  If you keep coming back with additional requests, you will not score high in the likeability category.  

Early offers.

Getting an early offer can be a problem.  The company will expect an answer reasonably soon.  If you are looking at multiple jobs, it would be best to get all the offers at once however, this is not usually the case.  Know what you are looking for in a new job and closely evaluate your options against your criteria.  You may also be able to delay an offer if you request a later second or third-round interview.  

Dealing with ultimatums.

Avoid giving ultimatums as they will come off wrong.  The employer may also give an ultimatum.  When receiving one, ignore it.  The one giving it may realize it could damage the negotiations and want to retract it.  If the ultimatum is never discussed, there is no losing face for that person.  Instead, express how you can see it might be difficult.  Then talk about something else.  If the ultimatum turns out to be significant, you will learn that over time. Alternatively, if the employer says, “this is the salary, and that’s it”, you can ask them how they arrived at the salary.  You can express that you understand their constraints and you hope they understand your need to ensure you are paid market value.  Finally, you can offer to follow-up with an email on your rationale so they can take time to consider it.  

Be clear on timing.

You may feel like the employer is delaying.  Keep in mind they have other responsibilities.  Be patient and ask for clarification on timing expectations and if there is anything more you can do to support their process.  

Revisit issues.

Keep in mind that if you do not get what you want on a particular point, you may be able to address it later once your employer knows and trust you. The more you negotiate over the span of your career, the easier it gets.  During that journey, tap into articles, podcasts, training, experts or paid consultants to enhance your skills.  

About the Author

  Paula J. Norbom | Founder & President | TalencioPaula Norbom is the Founder and President of Talencio, a Minneapolis-based executive search and staffing firm serving health technology companies.  She worked in the health technology space for over 20 years, as an accounting executive before launching Talencio.  Paula covers leadership topics related to employment and health technology.  Contact her at (612) 703-4236 or pnorbom@talencio.com. Talencio has been the preferred provider of vetted, accomplished professionals to the Health Technology Community for over 12 years. To learn how other companies have partnered with Talencio, tap into our skilled professional talent pool, or learn about career opportunities, contact us at 612.703.4236 or by email.  

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