Accept the Position That Is Right For You

Exercise 1: Determine your best offer

Congratulations, you made it to the most exciting phase of the job search. Now that you have a job offer, it’s time to negotiate successfully. You and the employer both have something at stake during the negotiation phase. Agreeing upon a win-win offer will benefit you both with a long-lasting, productive relationship.

There are two phases of an interview: first you sell them, then they sell. Watch carefully when you discuss salary. Early in the interview you want to focus on the company’s needs and your value to them, otherwise you’ll get the “going rate”. When the pathway is clear, in other words, when you know they want you, then numbers can come in to play. Let the employer talk first!

Remember these tips when negotiating a job offer
  • As a result of your networking interviews, you uncovered information about the company’s compensation package (salary, benefits, bonus and profit sharing programs). While this is good information to have handy, it does not necessarily reflect the salary you will be offered. Remember your goal during the interview process: sell the employer on your value to their organization. The more valuable you are to an employer, the more they will be willing to compensate you.
  • Avoid salary discussions until you receive a job offer. Don’t forget, whoever talks salary first loses; therefore, try not to disclose salary information.
  • If salary comes up early in the interview, before they start selling you on the company, say something like, “I’d like to come back to that after I have a better understanding of your needs and how my skills can benefit the company.
  • If you are specifically asked for your current salary, use the reversal technique and say something like, “My present salary is based on different job responsibilities. I would prefer to fit in with your structure. What salary range did you have in mind?
  • If you are asked what salary you are looking for, take this opportunity to reiterate the value you would bring to the organization, focusing on position requirements and your ability to meet the employer’s needs. Say something like, “I’m sure you will make a fair offer based on my strengths and the value I can add to your organization such as (highlight one of your key strengths).” OR “I really hadn’t given it much thought yet. At this point, I am interested in learning more about the responsibilities of the position and would prefer to fit into your structure. What salary range did you have in mind?
  • If there is no way to avoid stating a salary range, refer back to compensation information you uncovered during your information interviews and reply, "I believe an appropriate range would be (dollar amount = salary + benefits) to (dollar amount)" stating a realistic salary range for yourself. Do not undersell yourself – shoot for the high end of the range you uncovered. Realize that by giving a number, you may disqualify yourself or leave money on the table. To get an idea of salary ranges for various job titles, see some comparative salary information we've compiled for you.
  • If a verbal offer is made, do not agree at that time. A simple “I see” response followed by expressing appreciation for the offer and asking for time to consider the offer is all you need to say. Then stop talking. A period of silence is a good thing. In fact, it may work to your advantage as employers often make offers based on the lower end of a salary range. Your silence may prompt the employer to counteroffer.
  • Get the offer in writing (salary, benefits, vacation, bonus programs, etc.) prior to negotiating. If the employer gives you the offer verbally, send a note to the decision maker recapping the terms of the offer as you understand it. Use this opportunity to reinforce your strengths and your value to the company.
  • Offer to call back in a week or so to see how the decision process is going. Try to maintain a helpful demeanor and not an anxious or demanding one.
  • Never accept an offer on the spot. It is reasonable to consider an offer for at least two to three days. This allows you time to evaluate the offer based on the criteria you decided was most important to you. It also allows the employer to reconsider, renegotiate and increase your offer.

Having trouble deciding which job offer suits you best? Return to the Decision Matrix for help.

Continue to exercise 2: Respond to a Job Offer