Congratulations! You’ve hauled yourself through the painful job application process and the sweet taste of success is imminent. They’ve made you an offer.

However your work on gaining job satisfaction is not yet done. While most companies actively build some negotiation room into their offer, latest research suggests that less than 40% of people are actually going after it. Great for employers but a bit of a shame for you!

Your ability to negotiate on salary is unlikely to be more powerful over the next year than it is right now. It’s a painful truth of business that you can reap the benefits of moving company as companies tend to invest in securing new talent.

“Any negotiation starts with good planning” – Cassandra Stavrou, Founder of Propercorn

First thing to note is that your bartering doesn’t actually begin here. It began a month or so ago when you had your first exchange with the talent manager. It’s highly likely they asked you what your salary expectations were. Hopefully at this stage, you went higher than your actual expectations, even just a smidge. This can be quite important when ensuring everyone walks away from the negotiation feeling they got a good deal.

There are many ways to establish what a good answer is here, as you equally don’t want to go so high they write you off. If the salary isn’t listed and you aren’t working through a recruiter (or even if you are) it’s worth researching similar roles to get a clear understanding of what is a good salary for what you’re walking into. Many recruitment agencies publish annual salary reports for their industry which may give a helpful benchmark. Glassdoor and LinkedIn can also be helpful so have a look around. Another thing to consider if you are also asked your current salary, you’re actually not obligated to share this, so in the case it’s disproportionately low and you’re worried about it keeping you in a bracket, you can choose to withhold.

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As you went through interview stage, the more worth you demonstrated, the more they want you, the more likely they are to find a bit more money down the back of the sofa. If they’ve made you an offer, it seems like you did well enough here so congrats you charming thing, successful preparation paid off.

When the offer comes through, be pleased. Be openly enthusiastic about the offer. YAY. WHAT A UNIQUE AND GROUNDBREAKING COMPANY. Make it clear you want to be there…. but it isn’t a yes yet. You need time to think and consider.

If the company is big enough, from this point your conversations are likely to be with the HR department, which is great. You can negotiate firmly and then bring all the charm once you’re in the doors. I say this because often when people receive job offers, they’re nervous to negotiate for fear of looking aggressive or ungrateful before they join. No-one will pay you more than they think you’re worth so please try not to be too restricted by this fear. And if you’re still unconvinced, that’s when the saving grace can come in that you are probably not dealing with the people who will go onto become your manager.

It’s also important to remember that very soon you may be negotiating on their behalf so being clear is unlikely to be too bigger strike against you (unless you’re planning to send a rider, cos you may be an excellent business strategist but you aint Madonna).

As your potential new employer is very unlikely to have gone in straight off with their highest offer, accepting the first one straight up is undervaluing yourself a lil bit. Remember, you’re not only sacrificing money up front, but in the long-term as well as all future salary increases will spring from this. It is perfectly normal to take a day or two to consider the offer before going back. You may wanna weigh up the extra benefits, healthcare, gym membership etc, which they’re likely to remind you of. These things aren’t salary so I wouldn’t factor them in too highly. Bonus or commission payments will make a difference so it’s worth taking the time to understand those but don’t get distracted. The take home number is the critical thing in your power to change right now.

When you go back to make a counter offer, a good rule of thumb is to go in 10-25% higher than the offer they first made you? Why? It’s standard practice to keep a 10% wiggle in their budget and by asking for more, you a) might get it but b) even if you don’t they haven’t given you quite as much as you asked for so hence two happy negotiators. Why no higher? If you go too high you risk looking out of touch and not being taken seriously.

Remember. The original offer can’t be withdrawn so you have nothing to lose by negotiating, and possibly 15% to gain!

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If the employer isn’t budging, alas, then you can either walk away or accept the offer. It may be worth seeing if you can agree to any additional benefits such as extra holiday or a salary review in a few months. However those things are typically more tightly regulated for new joiners and a ‘salary review’ is not something you can really bank on. After walking away it’s possible they’ll come in higher but also not guaranteed, so if you do walk away, make sure you mean it.  

And there you have it. Good luck money makers.

*****

Lexy is a writer, DJ and marketing professional living in London. 
She is a gemini and a feminist who loves coffee and leather trousers.

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