Deal or No Deal? Negotiating the Final Job Offer

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the interview process and an offer is forthcoming. Now it gets tricky. Here are some tips for perhaps the most delicate – and important – part of the process: negotiating your compensation. 

Don’t Go it Alone: If you’ve been working with a recruiting firm, there have been three parties involved in getting to this point. Likewise, there should be three parties participating in the offer stage. Your recruiter’s experience can be invaluable here.

Lean on Me: What does your recruiter do at this point? Let them help negotiate as the go-between if at all possible. They can set the table for all parties so there are no surprises at this juncture, advocating for you to get the best possible offer, and for the company to make sure you’re being realistic. Your recruiter knows the marketplace and negotiates dozens of such offers in any given year. You – and the company owner, for that matter – may only do this a few times in your lifetime. Put that experience to work for you. Additionally, by acting as the go-between the recruiter can help to defuse what can be a very emotional process.

Say What You Mean: Backing up to the interview stage, if a manager asks what you need to take the job, be honest. Don’t assume that this can be negotiated upwards later. This is not the time to be clever … be direct and clear, just as you would with a sales prospect.

Past is Past: Sorry to say it, but what you currently earn or have earned in the past is irrelevant. This position has a certain value to the company, and at least the framework for that value should be established early on so there are no surprises at this point. The company’s goal is to hire you for “minimum wage;” that is, the least they can pay to fill the position with the necessary skills and experience. Both the recruiter and the company should know very early in the process the minimum compensation required for you to make a move.

Bottom Line: Setting clear expectations at the start of the interviewing process goes a long way towards preventing unpleasant surprises at the end. By the time a written offer is forthcoming, it should be a done deal in the minds of all three parties.