By: Dwain Celistan
The highlight of the interview process is its culmination in a job offer. To get here, the candidate has successfully navigated through many hurdles: resume review, phone screen, multiple interviews, references checked and perhaps a psychological test. These events typically transpire over weeks and in many instances months.
The hiring process is not complete until there is an agreement between the organization and the candidate. This final step is as important as any of the prior steps for both parties. The goal is to secure a win win agreement between an organization and a candidate. This can be a delicate part of the process especially when there is a substantial gap between the offer made by the organization and the expectations that a candidate has for the role.
A candidate can manage their side of the job offer negotiation by doing four things:
Prepare for the negotiation in advance of receiving an offer. By defining expectations in advance of an offer, it allows for the candidate to do so absent emotional baggage that may occur in the interview process.
An approach to help a candidate prepare is to lay out the current state (or most recent for someone in transition), an acceptable offer and an ideal offer across key dimensions. You might also include a column for a “good” offer. A chart that can be used is as follows:
Pre Offer Preparation
Current Acceptable Good Ideal
- Bonus %
- Sign on bonus
- Long term comp
- Other perks
Know your priorities (using the chart above) in advance. This will enable you to address the areas that are of greatest concern or opportunity for enhancement. Your priorities should guide evaluation of the offer. By pre-planning, you have a basis for evaluating the offer in a rational and less emotional manner.
By knowing your priorities and staying with them, you can keep your negotiations on the right items. Importantly, don’t revisit areas after you’ve reached agreement, or introduce new points of concern later in the negotiations.
Maintain and positive balance on your comments. In your call to the organization following receipt of the offer, lead with the positives. An example of a good start to the conversation, the candidate can begin with an appreciation for the offer, the opportunity to join the team and the potential to add value. Beyond those broad positives, add the positives of the elements of the offer—base, bonus potential or some other item.
Once done, now transition into the 1-2 areas that you’d like revisited. Share with the organization the areas that are not in line with your expectations. It is also an opportunity to introduce items that may not have been a part of the offer—perks, sign on bonus, car allowance, etc.
Lastly, keep the list small and focus on the areas that are most important. This will increase the likelihood of advancing the issue to a point of acceptance. If an element is a “deal breaker”, it is worthwhile sharing that with the organization to know its importance.
Follow up quickly and respond within 48 hours. If you have another opportunity that is coming to closure, you may adjust this timing, but as you near a week, you become less attractive to the hiring organization.
Avoid allowing the negotiation process to extend beyond one week. This becomes less attractive to the hiring organization.
In summary, for effective negotiations prepare in advance, know your priorities and handle promptly.
Dwain Celistan is a retained executive recruiter, coach and speaker. He has authored “5 Simple Steps to Achieving Your Dreams” and “You’re Hired! Actions to Get and Keep the Job You Love”. Please contact Dwain either through firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-455-0172.