Upwardly Mobile: Negotiating Your Job Offer

You’ve decided to start the job search but do you know what want from your next job? Whether its career or lifestyle motivated, we typically leave our current employment to change or improve a situation. Understanding your motivations and being clear on what you want is the key to negotiating your next job.

This article explores motivations for leaving your current role and things you need to consider when negotiating your next role.

What do you want?

What’s going to make leaving the comfort of your current job worthwhile? While we all typically want to make more money as we move to another job, that isn’t always the sole reason. There are also many other considerations:

  • Are you looking to advance your career and take the next logical step?
  • Do you want more responsibility and more challenges?
  • Are you looking for new learning opportunities?
  • Are you looking to get out of the fast lane and take on fewer responsibilities?
  • Do you want to be closer to home?
  • Are you tired of the road warrior syndrome or do you want to become a road warrior and travel more?
  • We will not “burn” your references or friends for our individual gain
  • Are you looking for a less stressful environment?

Remember the big increase might not mean anything if you are stressed to the max and are not liking the travel. Be clear on what’s important to you and where you want to make the trade-offs. After all, you want to make sure your next move meets your expectations.

Show me the Money

If one of your reasons to move is to make more money, ask yourself how much more do you want to make?

What’s reasonable to one person may not be to the next. Typically the majority of people look for between a 5 to 15 percent increase on their base salary. If you’re hoping for a 20 percent plus increase, you may be disappointed unless you have those “really hot and hard to find skills” or are seriously underpaid.

You’ll want to factor potential bonuses into your overall compensation. It’s important to understand the way a bonus is structured. You’ll need to know what the bonus percentage is, whether it’s earned due to personal performance, company performance, team performance or a combination of any of these items. You’ll want to know the historical story of bonuses. Have they paid out every year and how much has paid out on average over the last 5 years?

Here are some other additional monetary incentives to consider:

  • Signing bonus, repayable within 6/12 months if the candidate leaves within that time frame
  • Guaranteed first year bonus
  • Stock options and employee share plans

What to look for in an offer

In all cases, your offer should list the monetary and non monetary benefits you will receive. If applicable, the offer should contain most of the following items:

  • Job title
  • Start date
  • Who the position reports to
  • Where the role is located
  • Base salary/annual compensation
  • Bonus information – explain how the bonus works i.e.: a percentage of salary, when it pays out — quarterly, annually, based, whether it’s based on individual performance or company or a combination
  • Review date
  • Probationary periods
  • Entitlement to join company benefit program and when
  • Vacation entitlement
  • Other benefits such as RRSP match, pension, stock options, free gym membership, payment of professional membership fees etc

Consider other attractions

You can also consider these other non-monetary benefits, and their value will depend on what they represent to you personally:

  • Flextime
  • Telecommuting
  • Job sharing
  • Growth, learning and development opportunities
  • Recognition for innovative thinking in the form of a points program with rewards
  • Health and fitness programs
  • Additional days off , “well being” days
  • Day off for birthdays or annual anniversary with the company
  • Paid sabbaticals, after a number of years services
  • Additional vacation days, after a number of years service
  • Additional time off/ or paid trips if employees hit certain targets

Weighing your options

Not all companies can offer extra flexible arrangements, so it’s very important to consider how you feel about the role, your boss and the environment. You need to look at the total package and weigh up all pros and cons.

If you receive a good offer that you are happy with and think is fair, do not start to negotiate just to negotiate. While negotiating is more acceptable today, it’s still risky, so don’t jeopardize a good opportunity just because you think you are supposed to haggle over the annual salary.

If you are genuinely a little bit disappointed with the offer, then go back and ask in a reasonable manner for whatever it is you would like to see. Perhaps it’s some extra vacation, or a little bit on the base, paid parking, or tuition reimbursement. Outline whatever is most important to you.

It’s very important you ask for what you want in one fell swoop. Don’t keep going back repeatedly to squeeze a little bit more, it won’t impress your new employer who may retract the offer.

Know your parameters. If your offer cannot be increased, is it really a deal breaker? Remember an extra $1000 after tax works out at about $54 per month in your pocket. If this job and company represents a huge opportunity to progress, consider if it’s really worth turning down.

Essentially, if this is a company that you believe will be great for your career and you’ve connected with your new boss and fellow employees, you’ll want to weigh that above all else. It’s very important to be happy and challenged at work and its not always necessarily about the money.