Tips for Negotiating an Offer — Even When You Really Want the Job

July 28, 2010 at 11:48 am Leave a comment

The hiring process remains a two-way endeavor right up until the time a job candidate accepts a position. Yet, understandably, many job seekers are wary of pushing too hard once they’ve received an offer, figuring that if they don’t take the job “as is” the employer will be only too happy to move on to someone else.

And while in this competitive environment you don’t want to be unrealistic, you shouldn’t say “yes” without giving the offer some serious thought, and trying to negotiate to get the best deal you can. Hiring experts remind us that you’re unlikely to be in as good a bargaining position as you are right now — once you’re working there, it’s much harder to negotiate, and right now, you have a perfect record with the organization — so you’d best take advantage of it.

Here are some tips for negotiating an offer, even when you’ve been looking for a while and really want this job:

*Take some time. NEVER accept an offer to join an organization on the spot. First, it doesn’t make you look good with the organization — hiring managers expect you to take at least 24 hours to think about the offer. If you say yes right away, they actually may wonder whether they’ve made a mistake — good recruiters expect candidates to do some research and some thinking about the position. Ask for 24 to 48 hours to consider the offer and then get back to the hiring manager in that time frame, even if only to ask for more time to think about it. If they try to rush you, think hard about why they may be doing so. And never sign anything — even a hiring letter that is well short of a contract — until you’ve carefully read the offer and discussed it with someone you trust.

*Do some research. You should try to find out as much as you can about the position, the salary and the benefits offered before negotiating. Some of this research you may already have done — such as where the position fits in the organization, just what the duties will be and why the opening has occurred. With salary, you should seek to find out whether others doing similar jobs are similarly paid, or whether they are making you a “low-ball” offer (perhaps you’re being subject to a “layoff discount” if you lost your previous job). Though it’s difficult to research salaries, former employees and some of your contacts who know people in the organization may be able to give you a sense of whether the salary is realistic or whether you should ask for more. Come armed to negotiations with information. When you are initially made the offer, get contact information for their benefits specialist and then have a detailed conversation with them regarding benefits. If they are vague or say that you’ll get information once you start, don’t be afraid to tell the hiring manager that you can’t make a decision about the job until you have detailed information about benefits.

*Be realistic when negotiating salary, and try to do so in person.  While you should never just accept the initial offer — as often there may be some “give” in that number — you also should recognize what the organization pays for this position and whether there is much room for discussion. Many hiring managers these days have little flexibility when it comes to salary. This is an issue that should have been on the table — at least in a general sense — before you got to the offer stage. So after studying the offer, try proposing a 10 percent increase in salary. Do so in a friendly manner, but firmly and unapologetically. Carefully note their reaction (that’s why it’s better to do this in person; it also shows you are serious about the job and the offer). If the hiring manager doesn’t seem surprised, you are likely to get that. If they do or immediately respond that this is all they can offer, then explain your position. If you were paid more at your previous job, tell them that, and say that while you want to come work here (presuming you do, or you wouldn’t be wasting their time) you would like to start the job feeling that you are being paid a salary commensurate with the duties and your skills, and that the number you gave appears realistic. If they really can’t pay you more and say that, you’ll then have an opening to negotiate other terms.

*Consider the circumstances. First, figure out what can work in your favor in negotiations. For example, if the position has been open for a while and they need to fill it quickly, you may be able to negotiate more salary or time off later if you are willing to start right away (or after only two weeks — with no break between jobs — if you are currently employed). Other things that can help you in negotiations: the fact you may not have to move and so the company saves on any moving expenses; some skills you may already have so they won’t have to train you as long; and if you already have medical benefits, say, through a spouse or partner’s employer. Note all this in the negotiating conversation — the hiring manager may be able to go back to their boss to sweeten the salary or other terms in exchange for these factors. If they can’t give on salary, see if you can get additional vacation (often “off the books,” so determine what that means), a review within six or nine months at which salary may be increased, or other benefits such as better office space or flexibility with telecommuting or your schedule. Again, consider what works in your favor and use that to your benefit in negotiating the offer — even if you really want this job!

*Long-term unemployment can be tough not only on your psyche but on your physical health as well. Marketwatch.com looks at a new report on the topic from the Pew Research Center and provides some tips on how to try to stay healthy even while jobless:

Unemployment is hard on your health

*And here is an interesting link a dcworks supporter has sent along showing the 39 (don’t ask me why they stopped at that number!) most popular Facebook pages for job searching. Many are international but there could be some helpful stops there for Facebook users:

http://jobmob.co.il/blog/facebook-pages-job-search-2010/

*And now for a bunch of fresh leads for writers, editors and communicators:

*EEI Business Communications in D.C. has a (well-paying!) opening for a senior communications writer:
SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS WRITER
EEI BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS – Washington, DC
publications and communications that maintain and… of professional writing experience. Extensive experience writing enterprise-level communications for… $130,000 a year
From washingtonpost.com


*Water Street Partners in D.C. is looking for a research editor/director:
Research Editor / Director
Water Street Partners – Washington, DC
looking for a Research Editor / Director to develop… inquisitive ethos of journalism. As a Research Editor / Director, you’d work alongside our consultants…
From JournalismJobs.com

*The Save Darfur Coalition in D.C. has an opening for a senior director of communications:
Senior Director of Communications
Save Darfur Coalition – Washington, DC
advocacy communications for issues, people/candidates or causes; • Exceptional communication skills, especially strong writing, editing, and public speaking…
From idealist.org

*Global Impact, which was formerly ISA, in Alexandria is seeking a senior writer and communications strategist:
SENIOR WRITER & COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST
Global Impact (formerly ISA) – Alexandria, VA
will also develop communications strategies to ensure… Writer & Communications Strategist will create and maintain an editorial and communications style guide…
From idealist.org

*The Arabic Newsroom in D.C. has an opening for a managing editor:

The Arabic Newsroom – TV and Radio Journalism Jobs in
Washington, DC
Editor serves as the Arabic Managing Editor for… Editor is responsible for ensuring the quality of network news broadcasts. The Quality Control Editor… $127,000 a year
From eBay Classifieds

*The IRS has an opening in D.C. for a communications consultant who is a specialist in public affairs:
PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST (COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT)
Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – Washington, DC
of information and communications programs. Back to… in strategic communications planning. Demonstrated ability to plan and lead communications programs… $105,211 a year
From Internal Revenue Service

*The American Bar Association in D.C.  is looking for a news director:

News Director
American Bar Association – Washington, DC
the Presidential Communications unit and the Issues… based communications planning. Advance writing and editing skills. Advanced degree in communications or… $92,900 – $112,700 a year
From American Bar Association

*Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has an opening in D.C. for a Washington chief editor:

Job Description: http://www.rferl.org/jobs/detail/BNA1004.html

RFE/RL is seeking a talented, highly experienced, and well-connected candidate who can lead the news team in an engaging and authoritative way to produce new content across on-line, radio and new-media video platforms for diverse markets in need of local and international news.

As the public face of the company’s news operations in Washington the WCE has the responsibility to increase the presence, visibility and profile of RFE/RL. His/her expertise in a key RFE/RL target country or region combined with a strong knowledge of international affairs and Washington politics makes WCE, RFE/RL’s correspondent of record in the Washington media landscape.

*And to wrap up the leads,  Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s D.C. office has an opening for a speechwriter:

Democratic Senator seeks an experienced speechwriter to write speeches, op-eds and press statements. Excellent written and oral communications skills are essential, as is the ability to work both independently and collaboratively in a fast paced environment. Hill experience preferred. Please send resume and writing sample to democraticspeechwriter@gmail.com

Good luck on the hunt today!

Jodi

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