Blog post

Negotiating Your Job Offers Like a Professional

February 24, 2022
By GradProSkills

job interview

You have just received a job offer. It is a great position, but the salary seems a bit low. “I am not going to mention anything,” you tell yourself. “If I try to negotiate, I might make a bad impression. What if they rescind the offer? I am going to accept it anyway.” Does this situation sound familiar? If your answer is yes, worry not. This week’s blog post will equip you with handy strategies for negotiating your job offers like a pro.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

“There is no good reason to not at least try and negotiate your job offer,” says Bob Menard who has been advising graduate-level students at the John Molson School of Business for the last fourteen years. As long as you come back with a reasonable counter offer, it’s highly unlikely the offer would be rescinded – after all, the company has chosen you for a reason. In fact, many managers expect you to negotiate. “They want to see you display a variety of skills and standing up for yourself is one on them,” explains Menard. In many cases, managers have even reserved some funds for a salary increase in case the candidate asks for a higher pay. If low confidence or lack of negotiating skills are the reasons you shy away from negating job offers, don’t give up. These are competencies you can develop through training and practice. For example, you can take our workshop GPCB631 - Negotiating Your Job Offers and practice mock negotiations with a friend.

2. Know the Major Principles

When negotiationg for a job, provide a strong rationale. In other words, it is important to back up each of your requests with evidence, during negotiation. 
A. Market Value

Before asking for a higher pay, research what people with the same position are making at other places. Menard suggests some great websites to help you with the research:

But, be careful. Don’t trust a single source. It is better to do your research using all these sites and even additional ones, so you can ensure the accuracy of your salary expectations.

B. Value - Add 

Another good rationale for negotiating a job offer is the extra value you add to the job. When it comes to receiving an offer, the value you add is your skills and experiences. So, you need to know yourself and the job you are applying for.  After you determine the payment scale for the position, think about where you fit on this scale. Do you possess any additional relevant qualifications? For example, if the minimum requirement for the positions is a bachelor’s degree, and you have a master’s, you have a good reason to ask for extra compensation.

C. Buyer or Seller Role

Who has the power? People typically say the buyer. However, when it comes to negotiating a job offer, both the employer and you are buyers and sellers. Because the employers are also trying to sell something, they should be selling themselves to you: how great they are, why the role is important, there is career progression. And you are buying something too: you are buying into the culture of that company culture, into the way they are doing things, and you are giving up your time to work for them. KNow your power as a buyer and learning the skills a seller should have, will help you to negotiate with confidence.   

D. Creativity and Flexibility

When it comes to job offer negotiation it’s all in the details. It’s how you structure the details. So being creative and flexible is really important. Sometimes you are given a “no” to a request you have, you can either accept it as it is, or you can change it into a yes into another request. Think about “yes, but” instead of “no.”  therefore, Never take no for an answer, but be reasonable.

Remeber, salary is not the only thing you can negotiate. If your prospective employer is unable to give you a higher pay, you can try to negotiate other aspects of the job such as vacation time, benefits, starting dates or even working from home on certain days. But make sure you are always polite and reasonable. “Set your priorities straight early on and negotiate only the most important things,” advises Menard.

Young student in glasses preparing for the exam. Girl in the evening sits at a table in the library with a pile of books

3. Prepare Your Answer to the “Most Dreaded Question”

What is your salary expectation? This is a difficult question. A too high number might make you look greedy, while a too low number might portray you as inexperienced, cautions Menard. Moreover, answering this question might limit your negotiation opportunities. So what should you do? First, try to avoid answering. For example, you can say ”I am still trying to make sure I am the right fit. Maybe you can tell me what you are looking to pay for this position?” Sometimes this strategy does not work. Your second best bet is to give a range. “Make sure your preferred salary is at the lower part of the range and there is no more than 10% difference between the high and the low number,” advises Menard.  “And use odd numbers. They make you appear better-prepared.”

4. Pace Yourself

If you want to negotiate more than one aspect of the offer, such as the salary, the vacation time, and the flextime – don’t negotiate them as a package, recommends Menard. Start with the biggest request from the perspective of the manager – often, this is the salary. Then, go through each individual item, leaving the easiest ones until the end. Menard explains that this way you can take advantage of a phenomenon called buyer’s acceptance. “If they agree to do the biggest item, it is much easier for them to say yes to small items.”

5. Don’t Rush into Accepting

When you finally receive a long anticipated job offer, you may feel ready to accept it right away. Don’t rush. Make sure everything from the position title to the salary is what you and your prospective employer agreed on. Mistakes happen. If something is unclear, don’t be afraid to ask questions in person or call the company.

The entire GradProSkills team wishes you good luck with negotiating your future job offers!

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