Negotiating A Job Offer: What You Should Know

Do you cringe at the thought of negotiating a job offer? I know I used to.

I’ve always left it up to organizations to determine my worth and “pay me according to their salary structure”. Why hustle if it’s what I deserve? In an ideal world, this kind of thinking would hold water. In reality however, organizations have salary scales that vary even within one grade; departments have budgets for recruitment and you’ll never really know if you shot too high or too low; and businesses would always try to spend less wherever they can get away it. The fact that they have made you an offer means that they are interested in you and see you as a valuable employee. Don’t just “accept” whatever they offer and assume it’s their best. This is the quickest way to get shortchanged. The last thing you want to do is agree to take up a job offer only to resume disgruntled on the first day. It’s likely to turn out bad for you and the company.

There are however certain factors that could influence your decision of whether to negotiate or not negotiate a job offer. Here we go:

1. Time - If an organization gives you only a limited time to respond to their offer or you feel under pressure to respond immediately, you may end up shortchanging yourself. In some situations where the offer is incredibly low, it doesn’t take much time at all to decide not to accept the offer or negotiate. In other situations where the offer seems reasonable, it is still important to take into consideration any additional costs that may come with taking up the offer like rent, transportation, cost/stress of moving to a new location, registering your kids in new schools, etc. You must have a full view of the implications of making any of these changes before deciding that an offer is “good enough”. If the cost of making any or all of these changes do not make accepting the offer financially viable, you should consider negotiating.

Deciding whether or not to negotiate in some cases, requires time. Ask for more time to consider the offer, after which you should decide if it’s a good deal or not.

2. The organization may indicate that they have given you their best offer. In your offer email, they may emphasize that they have considered all and have come up with their best offer. A candidate receiving this may not want to proceed with negotiation since it is assumed that they have stretched their budget as far as possible. The candidate at this point, may decide not to negotiate for fear of appearing inconsiderate.

3. The offer exceeds the candidate’s expectations. Where the offer exceeds expectation, there’s usually no need to negotiate just for the sake of it unless not negotiating puts you in a situation where you appear weak.

4. The candidate has no leverage. A candidate fresh out of school or one who has been without work for a while would feel less inclined to negotiate. They would not have sufficient leverage, that is, BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement). In this situation, there would typically be no basis for negotiation, with the employer having the upper hand.

So, to negotiate or not to negotiate?

It all depends on you. The main point of this article is not to give you a definitive answer (life is not that simple) but to throw up some considerations that will help you decide whether or not to negotiate. Even if you negotiate and it doesn’t get you anywhere, you would at least have tried and can have some closure. You will also be less likely to torture yourself with ”what could have been”.