How to Negotiate Your Wage and Benefits

How to Negotiate Your Wage and Benefits was originally published on Hospital Recruiting.

negotiating your wages and benefits

After multiple interviews and a lot of stress, your dream job just called and gave you an offer! Now what? If you accept the offer on the spot, the odds are that you are settling for something lower than they are actually willing to give you. You don’t, however, want to lose the job because you were too greedy. How, exactly, are you supposed to negotiate so that you get the most out of your dream job?

Always Negotiate

It is very rare for an employer to be tied to a specific wage, especially if the job requires any kind of advanced education or experience. If you’re not sure if you can negotiate, ask the person making the offer, “Is there any room for flexibility?” They will rarely say yes, but will likely say something like, “What did you have in mind?” Anything besides a hard no generally indicates that they are open to negotiation.

Negotiating is important because failing to negotiate is leaving money on the table. If your future employer is open to negotiating, it means they are willing to offer more than they have. Not negotiating means that you will miss out on what you could be making.

Research

During negotiations, the person with the most information is the best equipped to get results that benefit them. Understand what a typical wage is in the role you are applying for and how your value compares to the average. By being prepared, you will be better equipped to negotiate for competitive compensation.

Know Your Needs

When negotiating wages, it is important to know what you absolutely need for compensation, what you would really like, and what would be nice to have. Starting negotiations without fully knowing the results that you would like to have or absolutely need can result in disaster. Having a floor in mind will not only help you to avoid taking terms that won’t work for you but will also give you more incentive to negotiate more strongly for better terms.

It is also important to know how badly you need the job you are being offered. If you don’t have a job, are running low on savings, and only have one offer, you should be a lot less aggressive than if you have multiple offers or currently have a good job. There is a lot of power in being able to walk away if you don’t like the terms; however, you need to know if you can walk away from an offer before you are faced with this situation.

Focus on Your Value

When discussing compensation, you should try to keep the focus on your value as much as possible. A great way to do this before negotiations even begin is to ask why they chose you instead of candidates when they extend an offer. This gives you an idea of what they value about you as a candidate and what the value you have to offer really is.

Don’t Overshare

The person with the most information during a negotiation is often the one who will benefit the most. Because of this, oversharing information with the person you are negotiating with should always be avoided. You especially should never discuss your current salary, as this can affect how your value is viewed. The only exception to this rule is if you are in a situation where a job is offering you less than you currently make, and you are trying to just maintain your existing wage.

Don’t Be Overeager

Being overeager can be seen as desperate. Even if you are desperate, be sure to avoid appearing desperate, as this indicates to the person that you are negotiating with that you will take even poor terms. It is always best to let them bring up the salary first or to wait until the very end to bring up compensation. This signals that the salary isn’t the sole consideration, even if it may be.

Think Beyond the Salary

When negotiating a job offer, it can be easy to focus exclusively on the pay. There are, however, many different components of an offer that you can and should negotiate. These can include:

  • Sign on bonus
  • Time off
  • Equity
  • Performance bonuses

Thinking beyond the salary enables you to make concessions but still gain something. For example, if a potential employer tells you they absolutely can’t quite meet your desired wage, rather than just accepting it, you can tell them you’d be willing to settle if they give you two more days of paid time off than they were initially offering. This type of negotiating helps you to end up with more benefits, even if you don’t get the wage you were hoping for.

Leverage Competition

If you are fortunate enough to have multiple offers, you will inevitably end up comparing the benefits of these different opportunities. You can use these differences to encourage potential employers to compete with each other. This technique must be used carefully, as too much back and forth can cause an offer to sour. 

It is best to try to only leverage competition with each offer once. A good way to approach this technique is to take the offer you want to accept the most and have your second choice compete against it. Once your second choice has offered you a better offer, you can then take their offer to your first choice and sometimes get better terms.

Negotiating an offer may seem daunting; however, through research and smart negotiation techniques, you can land not only the job you want but also get the wage and benefits you deserve.