Got the Job Offer? Don’t Blow It Now!

In the interview process, accepting the job offer may seem like the easy part. But mishandling this crucial moment can cost you thousands in lost salary – or even the job.

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.
– Tony Robbins

This post is part one of a three-part series based on chapter 17 of my new book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview.

The Big Moment at the End of the Interviews

The moment when you’re offered a job can be a mini-whirlwind of excitement joy, relief, nervousness, you name it. You may be tempted to scream “YES!” – quickly, before they can change their mind!

Many a job seeker has done exactly that, only to think later, “I sure wish I had thought about … (negotiating the starting date, the salary, leaving early on Tuesdays? the potential offer from that other company?) … before I said yes.”

Do yourself a favor. Have a plan for handling this important turning point in your career.

Buy Time to Think

When you receive the offer, chances are that one of the following will be true for you:

  • Certain aspects of the offer – maybe salary, the start date or the work schedule – could be better, and you have no reason to think the employer won’t negotiate.
  • You have been interviewing elsewhere and may be close to an offer from another company.
  • You’re not entirely sure this job is the right one. You have questions in your mind, such as:

Is this company financially stable? Any chance of layoffs in the next year or two?
Is this the right company culture for me?
Is there anything about the work schedule, the commute or the working conditions that’s going to get old fast?
What effect would this job have on my long-term career path?
Can I live on this salary?
Will I need to relocate? Will my family and I be happy in the new place?
Can I afford to wait for a better opportunity?

If so, I suggest you give an answer like this:

“This is a very exciting offer! I so appreciate it! Of course, it’s a very important decision, so I’d like to give it some careful thought. How soon do you need my answer?”

If you plan to negotiate, ask for a meeting:

“Is there a time tomorrow when we could meet to discuss the details of the offer?”

Whether you agree on giving an answer by Thursday, or meeting tomorrow at 1 pm to discuss details, immediately send an email confirming what has been agreed.

Confirm, Confirm, Confirm

We’ve all heard that it’s important to get a written offer letter (and to make sure all the details are as agreed). But that’s not the only point that needs to be confirmed in writing.

Opportunities have been lost because both parties were not clear about the next steps. “We didn’t hear back from you (within the timeframe we assumed you understood), so we had to move on.” Whether you’re asking for time to think, for an answer to a question, or for an opportunity to discuss (negotiate) details of the offer, make sure the next step is confirmed in writing.

Keep a pleasant tone about it. You’re simply being thorough and professional for the benefit of all concerned.

Next Up: Will You Negotiate?

Did you know that most employers expect some negotiation when they make an offer? If you’ve never negotiated your salary, benefits or other aspects of a job offer, stay tuned for the next two posts in this series. Or get my book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview, on sale now from Emerald Career Publishing.

Negotiating Salary & Benefits – the Importance of Reasons

ReasonDid you know there’s one little word that will help you get what you want in salary and benefits negotiations?

The word is “because.”

If you read last week’s post you know that I went on the internet radio show Career Confidante recently with a discussion entitled No-Fear Negotiation. It’s a method for negotiating your compensation package effectively while reducing the (small and preventable) risk of damaging rapport or losing the offer.

At the end of the interview, program host Marie Zimenoff added a story that shows the importance of backing up your requests with good reasons.

Here’s the story, which happens to be about negotiating benefits (vacation time, in this case).

Two candidates applied for similar engineering positions at the same company. One candidate asked for an additional week of vacation without giving any particular reason. The candidate was hired, but the company said no to the additional vacation time.

The other candidate also asked for an additional week of vacation. He said, “You offer an additional week of vacation after five years. Well, I already have five years of experience, it’s just not here.” This candidate was given the extra vacation time he requested!

Was his reason a good one? I’m not sure it made a lot of sense, since the vacation policy was based on tenure with the company. But his stated reason got him an extra week of fun in the sun!

A famous psychology experiment now known as “The Copy Machine” demonstrated how small changes in the wording of a request can make a big difference in the response.

The experimenter stationed a person near a copy machine in a busy office. When someone began copying, this person would come up to them and interrupt, asking to butt in and make copies. About 60% of the time the interruption was allowed. But the permission was granted almost 95% of the time if the person stepping up to interrupt not only asked, ”May I use the copy machine?” but added the reason, ”because I have to make copies.”

Is that a compelling reason? Not really – it goes without saying that they had to make copies. But it worked.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you rely heavily on meaningless reasons. I do think better reasons are more likely to give the impression that you are an intelligent, reasonable person, and that’s important. Give the best reasons you can come up with.

Examples of good reasons:

“I’m looking for something closer to (desired salary) because my 10 years of experience and my success in achieving (blah blah) results make me worth that much, and because it’s in both our interests to put together a competitive package appropriate to the value I bring.”

“I’m looking to start in two weeks rather than this Monday, because I haven’t had a vacation in two years and I believe we’ll get the best results if I start the job feeling totally refreshed and re-energized.”

“I want to telecommute because the hours I gain back from commuting will give me a boost in work-life balance that will help keep me 110% engaged and delivering the best possible results for the company.”

So the lesson is: in salary negotiation – or negotiating benefits and perks – always offer a reason.



Salary Negotiation – You Can Do It!

Salary Negotiation - You Can Do It!Will you negotiate your next compensation package? Your salary negotiation is likely to bring you an extra $5,000 a year.

Here are some facts you may not know about negotiating a job offer:

  • Most employers are open to negotiation of salary, benefits or other aspects of the job. In fact, a majority even expect candidates to negotiate. Doing so can demonstrate confidence, assertiveness, business savvy, and communication skills that may be valuable on the job.
  • Nevertheless, half of us never negotiate, fearing that we’ll appear greedy, damage the relationship, and possibly that the employer will rescind the offer.
  • Our fears are unfounded, as long as we do it right: in a clear, reasonable, factual, positive manner with a focus on win-win outcomes and the value you bring to the table.
  • How do you “do it right”? There are various techniques, but if you’d like to keep it simple here’s a step-by-step approach to salary negotiation that minimizes risk, maximizes gain and makes it a lot less scary.
  • Candidates who negotiate start their jobs with an average of $5,000 a year more – an increase that influences future raises and job offers, and can snowball into tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the course of your career. It’s like compound interest.

Get prepared to do a successful salary negotiation! You owe it to yourself.

7 Reasons to Negotiate a Job Offer

A surNegotiate Your Job Offer - Really!prising percentage of us think we can’t or shouldn’t negotiate when offered a job.

We may be afraid the employer will withdraw the offer or find us ungrateful or arrogant.

Or we don’t really know why we don’t negotiate. “I just can’t see myself doing it!”

Before you decide “I can’t” or “It doesn’t make sense in this economy,” please take a moment to think about it.

(My hope is that this post will motivate you by showing you why you should negotiate. In a post later this week I’ll explore the how, including a simple formula for the negotiation discussion.)

Why negotiate?

1. Because it’s not just about your initial paycheck. Future raises will be a percentage of that. The same may be true for bonuses and benefits. And future employers will ask about your salary history.

2. Because any aspect of the job may be negotiable. Do you want to telecommute one or more days a week? Leave early for classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays? This is your best opportunity to get adjustments in any aspect of the job. These are concessions an employer can make regardless of the economy and the budget.

3. Because it’s safer than you may think. Once they’ve made a firm offer – preferably in writing – very few employers will withdraw it just because the candidate made a reasonable attempt to negotiate. The worst that’s likely to happen is that they won’t budge.

4. Because many employers expect you to negotiate, and may respect you more for doing so. They often plan for it, leaving “wiggle room” above their initial offer. Negotiating shows you are a savvy professional with confidence in the value you bring.

5. Because assertiveness and negotiation are important on-the-job skills. This is especially true in management, sales, human resources, project management, anything involving vendors, etc. – and potentially in any job. Demonstrate these relevant skills!

6. Because you don’t have to feel totally confident to succeed in it. Confidence helps, but negotiating nervously is better than not doing it at all. The mere fact that you’re negotiating shows that you mean business.

7. Because if you’ve never negotiated salary before, you’re going to feel a great sense of empowerment once you do!

How to negotiate?

In my next post, I’ll go beyond the usual tips about researching how much you’re worth, etc., to lay out a simple, step-by-step framework for opening and conducting negotiations once you have an offer in hand.

Be prepared in advance, because an offer will happen!