When you’re getting ready to negotiate the best offer possible, keep in mind the “3 R’s of Negotiating.” Specifically: Remember why the company wants to hire you, Remind the employer of why you’re a perfect fit for the work and the benefits you’ll bring, and Request what you want and need.
Next, keep in mind the following principles as you’re negotiating: there’s always more on the table; the first offer is never the best; if you don’t ask, you don’t get; make concessions (“If I give on this, then I expect to get that in return”); trade a “no” for a “yes” on something else that’s of value to you; and never give without getting.
Here are a few ways to put these principles into action. Regarding the salary amount you’ve been offered, ask questions about flexibility but don’t ask for a specific number as it could end up limiting you. Instead, you can say something like, “The salary of $50,000 is lower than I think the work is worth. What flexibility is there in your initial base offer?” Regarding vacation, ask open-ended questions such as, “What’s your policy on vacation for professional hires?”, or “How are variations in vacation policy decided?” Don’t ask what options exist, if there are precedents for increasing vacation time, if there’s a way to get an exception, or if an alternative solution can be found. Again, you don’t want ask questions that will limit your negotiating opportunities.
Trading is a particularly important negotiating technique. Trading concessions means that before you agree to something the employer wants, ask for something in return. Here’s an example of a trading response: “If I accept the salary offer, which is lower than the industry rate, will you consider a signing bonus?” The idea is to avoid giving up anything without getting something back. You won’t win on everything but you’ll certainly enhance the offer.
Once the negotiating ends and you’re satisfied with the outcome, ask for the agreement or an employment contract in writing. Sometimes employers won’t write an employment agreement; if that’s the case, you should write a letter of acceptance listing the agreed upon terms and send it to both the hiring manager and HR department.
One final point to keep in mind throughout the negotiating process: the person you’re negotiating with will be your boss. So strive to make the process a win-win solution for you and the company at every step along the way.