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The art of negotiating a job offer

Many people see negotiation as a battle to be won or lost. When negotiating a job offer, you want to walk away with more than you had, but not at the expense of the other. The best negotiators can find solutions that benefit both parties through collaborative problem-solving, trade-offs and compromise.

Consider your career goals

While negotiating salary may seem the most important, making compensation the deciding factor can lead you astray. It’s essential to consider your career goals. Will the job offer help you progress? For example, say your goal is to progress to a leadership role. Most leadership positions are hired from within, which means it may take longer to earn a leadership title in a new company. Ask your prospective employer if they can put you on the fast track for internal career development, including in-house training and sponsored certificates and courses. If they can’t offer this, consider staying in your current position and working up to a leadership position. This type of long-term thinking can pay off in the future.

Know your negotiables and non-negotiables

Decide what you are willing and not willing to compromise on before going into the negotiation. Not only will this help you feel more confident, but it will also help you better understand whether the role is the right fit for you. Before walking into the meeting, think about your non-negotiables. Are you willing to work overtime, travel on the weekends, or accept a lower salary? Then reflect on your wishes: Would you prefer to work from home? Do you want onsite childcare or the option to relocate to another office in the future? If the negotiation crosses your no-go’s, it’s time to walk away from the offer.

Show empathy

Most people believe negotiation is about forcefully pushing for what you want. In reality, ‘pushing’ feels threatening and can lead people to push back. Instead, try empathizing with the hiring manager. You could say, “I’m thrilled to get this initial offer, and I would really love to work with you. It feels great to have gone through the interview process and come out of it knowing we both want the same thing”. Tactical empathy can build trust and show the hiring manager you are on the same team, making them more likely to listen to your requests with an open mind.

Take down barriers

Next, try to understand what drives the other side. Ask yourself what the hiring manager wants to achieve right now. Are they in the throes of a big project? Do they need to relieve an overburdened team? Knowing this could help you negotiate for the ability to work remotely by pointing out you’ll be more available to work during the time otherwise lost to commuting. Think about the barriers the hiring manager might have, and consider what you can do to remove them. If they say no, ask them in a non-defensive way to tell you more about their reasoning.

Think creatively about the benefits

It’s not all about base salary. Whether it’s more paid time off, a better job title, signing bonus, relocation opportunities, stock options, phone and internet reimbursements, access to private healthcare, a direct report or budget for freelance talent, or an all-paid-for trip to an industry conference - there are many other benefits in a compensation package. If your hiring manager has a strict salary range, but you’d still like to work with them, consider asking for perks beyond the paycheck.

Find your black swan

Black swans are pieces of information that can change the negotiation’s course. For example, if you’re considering accepting a job offer as Global Head of Sales, and the company has just announced they’ll be opening a branch in Dubai - your ability to speak Arabic will be a tremendous asset. Knowing they want to break into the Dubai market, you could persuade your prospective employer to agree to a higher salary - arguing your knowledge of the culture and language will help you generate more revenue for the company. Finding your black swan requires research, an open mind and the ability to think creatively. Try finding your black swan by asking your network about the company and scouring the internet for press releases, reviews and their business strategy.

In conclusion

Negotiating a job offer is about reaching a place of agreement in the spirit of collaboration. Instead of seeing your counterpart as your adversary, consider them an ally. Show the hiring manager you’re on the same team by showing genuine interest in what drives them, and be prepared to come to a compromise to find a solution where both parties benefit. Are you a digital expert considering working in Finland? Let our experts do the work for you. With Heron Talent, a recruitment consultant will help you prepare for job interviews, navigate salaries, and answer the unknowns. Let’s talk!

Photo by Armin Rimoldi