The dos and don’ts of negotiating a job offer

So you’ve been offered a new job, congratulations! It can be very tempting to reply with an immediate and resounding ‘yes’ – especially if they’ve validated your hard work and experience with a pay rise. Hold fire on that send key for a minute. 

Our first-ever podcast episode was on negotiating a pay rise, and we still receive emails, messages, and shoulder taps from Powrsuiters who listened and then acted. The combined wealth of our community has grown by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Still, we have even bigger ambitions #MillionDollarMovement.

This is your most powrful moment

Many of us have been socialised to believe we need to prove our worth before asking for what we’re worth. Well, friend, you already have. During the recruitment process, you’ve showcased your experience and capabilities. You’ve been offered a job because you’ve convinced many people that you are the best person for it. 

The keyword here is ‘convinced’ because organisations don’t hire people; people do. And all the people involved in the process are emotionally involved. They’ve spent time and effort on this process and want you to join their team. Now is the absolute best time to negotiate.

If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for us

Your initial remuneration package acts as an anchor, an indicator of your value and a baseline to grow from. Putting your best foot forward at the start will put you a giant leap ahead when it comes to future pay rises. And if that doesn’t convince you, do it for the sisterhood – help us close the gender pay gap. 💪

So, after helping a Powrsuiter negotiate a job offer last week, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts to review before you accept a new job. Bookmark this article, share it with friends and make sure you never again take a new job without making sure you get what you deserve:

Do: Find win-wins

Contrary to popular belief, negotiation isn’t about winning; it’s about reaching an agreement everyone is happy with. Leave hardball to Wall Street – you’re building stakeholder relationships here. Being likeable is a real strength – people love to work with people they get along with. Take the time to learn about the people hiring you, get to know them, connect with them and understand what they care about. Small acts have a big impact: ask about their kids, challenges in their jobs, and what they love about work. Find common ground to bond over.

Don’t: Make ultimatums

Imagine you’ve just offered someone a job. You’re proud of where you work and think it’s a great opportunity, but they’re demanding and dismissive. Not cool. Even if you’re wrangling five job offers (#respect), be excited about each one. Even if you plan to walk away if you don’t get what you want, opening with a threat is the fastest path to negotiation breakdown. Be open, curious and personable. 

Do: Know your unique value

Now, more than ever, it’s important to combat that negative self-talk and be your own hype-girl. You’ve taken the time to understand the problems your new employer is trying to solve and what they want to achieve. Now is the time to articulate why you’re the best person to help them get there. Use your storytelling skills to convey your value. Use specific examples that demonstrate your unique strengths and tie them to helping reach their goals. Give yourself a head start and listen to episode 1 of our three-part series on strengths.

Don’t: Compare your new job with your current job

Your current salary, hours, leave, and benefits are an important consideration. To you. Yes, you should do the maths on the whole package and ensure your new remuneration stacks up against what you already have. No, you don’t need to tell your new employer your workings. Just like you wouldn’t compare your ex with the person who’s now lovingly staring into your eyes, you shouldn’t tell your new employer how they compare to your last one. 

Do: Consider the full package

Assign a dollar value to the salary, retirement fund contribution, insurance policy, company car, professional development budget, phone plan and car park to understand the full value of your remuneration package. It’s easy to mistake a long list of benefits with a lot of value or, overlook a lower salary when it’s actually offset by a lot of other benefits. Calculating the total worth means you know what you’re negotiating with. 

Don’t: Take a piecemeal approach

Negotiate your package as a whole, not one step at a time. You don’t need to negotiate every benefit. Start with the biggest factors (usually salary is one of these!). There may be a bit of back and forth, so have a list of backup benefits in your back pocket. If they can’t stretch on salary, they may be able to budge on other elements. Want to focus on building skills? Ask if you can add coaching sessions (or a Powrsession) to your package. Have progression in mind? Ask for a commitment to sponsorship and mentoring. By considering your package as a whole, you can pull different levers during the negotiation and improve the odds of coming to a mutually beneficial agreement.

Do: Know the market value of your job

The job market is like any other marketplace – all sorts of factors influence the current salary expectations. Check the current range for your new role. 

Don’t: Make ‘selfish’ demands

Obviously, you want to make sure you’re getting what you need, but there’s nuance to negotiation. We’ve been on the other side countless times, and there’s nothing more demoralising than a candidate kicking off by asking for more leave and flexibility. We’re big fans of both those things. But. When you’ve just offered someone the exciting opportunity to join your team, and they immediately focus on how they can be there less… well, it makes you reconsider their commitment. Absolutely negotiate on these points, but always connect the dots to tangible value. Think, “I’m at my best when I have two days at home for deep work” instead of “I prefer to work from home to avoid the commute”. 

Do: Ask for help

Most of us don’t negotiate often, let alone on something as important as this. Getting this right could be the difference of thousands of real, tangible dollars. Money that can fund holidays, mortgage payments and investments. Use your personal board of directors. Negotiating in person? Do a practice run. Replying by email? Get at least two sets of eyes over it to sanity test and tweak. Trust us, this is one of the most valuable things you can do. 

Just received a job offer?

Knowing the theory is one thing, but actioning it can be hard! We’ve drafted a template response to make negotiating a job offer easy. Just copy, paste and edit.

30 second action:

Complete the free High 5 test and identify your strengths. Get comfortable articulating them and think of how you might tie them to examples that showcase your value. This is vital during recruitment (and beyond!).

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