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Negotiating Job Offers for Beginners

If you want to get to a mutually agreed upon contract cordially and quickly, try the following helpful suggestions.

Elizabeth Hoyt

February 23, 2014

Negotiating Job Offers for Beginners
The goal of going through the grueling application and interview processes is to get to the ultimate goal: a job offer. The employment offer comes in and excitement ensues until you suddenly realize that negotiations will soon begin, assuming you intend to accept the offer. If you want to get to a mutually agreed upon contract cordially and quickly, try the following helpful suggestions.

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Understand the hiring manager. It’s important to understand how the negotiations process will take place. Will you two be having a conversation or will all negotiations take place in writing? Do you get the sense that the hiring manager will give you the best offer possible from the start? It’s important to have these open, honest conversations to begin the process so that each party can how what type of negotiations will take place, what is realistic to ask for and that neither party leaves the negotiation feeling as if the other has taken advantage of them.

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Negotiate for the future. While it may not seem like much in the moment, the difference of a couple thousand dollars can add up to a very large sum during the span of an entire career. Take advice with a grain of salt. It’s great to ask others for guidance like mentors, people you trust within the field and family members. But, make sure that you are the ultimate judge about what advice is appropriate to take and apply to your particular situation. Remember, not all advice will be applicable and only you are responsible for what you bring to the table. Research previous hiring contracts.
If you know the hiring precedents, you’ll be ahead of the game in terms of negotiations. Research the company and talk to trusted peers that have worked for or currently work for the company to gain some insight into what the hiring contracts typically look like for the position you’re being offered. Justify your requests. When making specific contract requests, explain the reasoning behind your request. For example, if you’re requesting a certain salary, you can explain that you've researched typical salaries within your field and are requesting a salary that is comparable to a median salary within the research findings. Most hiring managers would see that as a reasonable request as opposed to you just choosing an arbitrary number that you’d like to be earning. Understand each offer and contract. Are you aware of how long each offer is valid? You don’t want to take too much time thinking over the offer, decide to accept it and come to find that it has expired in the meantime. Did you take the time to go through the entire offer before making a list of demands? Often times, hiring departments have standard sets of packages they offer to new hires that include many of the items you were likely going to request. It would certainly appear careless to request the very items that were already being offered to you! Compromise. As the word “negotiation” indicates, both parties will likely need to practice the art of compromise. Consider what factors are most important to you and compromise on the others. Remember, you will likely have to work with the person you’re negotiating with and it’s much better to have a great working relationship than to disagree over something petty. You don’t want to sabotage your potential hiring contract over something that may not matter that much to you in the end, either. Try to put each item in perspective and consider whether or not it makes that big of a difference in your future. Be humble. If a company is offering you a position, they know they are lucky to have you – you don’t need to remind them. Often times, relationships can be severed and offers are rescinded because potential employees become too arrogant in the hiring process and demand too much. Make sure all of your demands are within reason and on par with the rest of the current team you will be working with. You certainly don’t want to enter into a scenario with bitterness and resentment because you were able to over-negotiate. While it may seem like a good thing to get more, it may place more strain than it’s worth on your relationship with your coworkers, making your work relationships very difficult. In the end, the goal is to find a happy medium that both parties feel is fair. This should be fairly simple if the negotiators come to the table open-minded and honest about expectations. When the process is finished, it should result in both a signed employment contract as well as the start of a successful working partnership that will last for years to come.

What advice would you add to this list?

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