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Negotiating the job offer you want



A man and woman looking at a document together

I once blundered my way through a negotiation at 16 and then again at 19, blundered is letting myself off nicely, they were shi*. I ended up accepting two positions that although got better over time, could have had an improved starting position if I had the awareness back then as I do now.

A decade later and at 29, I am in a better position to help you negotiate the job offer you want having supported well over 250 individuals find their next career move.

However, there are far better people to learn from so I am delighted to share the insights of Andreas Bundi from Pitch, Mélina Fodor from PlanA and Alex Cook from Mixmax. Their collective experiences involve countless negotiations and with each of them being internal recruiters today, it gives an added edge to help those seeking employment today.

In our discussions with each of them, we've delved into when to initiate negotiations, what aspects should be on your negotiation agenda, specific advice to guide you through the process, and crucial pitfalls to steer clear of at all costs.

We extend our gratitude to our guests and thank you for accompanying us on this journey to unravel the art of securing the offer you desire.

 

When should you Negotiate?

Recognising the ideal moment to commence negotiations holds significant importance, as it prevents the wasting of time on processes that ultimately fail to align with your personal or the company's objectives.

All our guests recommend initiating the dialogue right from the outset of the process. This doesn't entail launching into hard negotiations over contract specifics immediately. Instead, it involves gaining an understanding of the parameters the company is operating within while also expressing your own objectives.

Mélina explained that recruiters typically approach this topic naturally, and it often serves as a positive sign when a company is transparent in this regard. However, if the topic isn't raised by the company, it's advisable to take the initiative and explore this area yourself.

Andreas did stress that the talent team or recruiter is usually the best point of contact for such discussions, as the hiring manager may not possess precise information on budgets or areas of flexibility within the team. Therefore, if your initial meeting is with the hiring manager, it's still worthwhile to inquire about these aspects but revisit the topic later in the process.

 

What can you negotiate on?

Before delving into what elements are negotiable, it's essential to express a critical point highlighted by Mélina and Alex. In our previous articles, we've stressed the importance of job seekers creating genuine value by leveraging research and asking pertinent questions during interviews to identify challenges they can genuinely address. When you express this value effectively, it can transform you from a candidate the company wants into a candidate they truly need. In such cases, the company is more likely to exhibit flexibility in negotiations.

All three guests pointed out that your negotiating position as a job seeker can sometimes be influenced by the company's current circumstances, especially where they stand in terms of their business maturity. A younger, less process-driven company may have more room to negotiate across various aspects to secure your talent, whereas a more structured team might have a predefined offer package aimed at equitable treatment for all employees, resulting in fewer individualised offers and less room for negotiation, including salary bands.

Nevertheless, in practice, you can inquire about any component of an offer. Whether you'll secure everything you ask for depends on the specific circumstances, as mentioned earlier. Based on our conversations, there are several components worth exploring, such as shares/stock options, remote work opportunities, shortened workweeks, early salary reviews (before the typical 12-month mark), vacation days, education allowances, and transportation benefits.

It's crucial to be crystal clear about what matters most to you and focus your negotiations on those aspects. If certain benefits, like education budgets, are not significant to you, there's no need to compare them to your current situation. Be prudent and negotiate selectively, concentrating on the areas that hold genuine importance to you.

 

Advice to anyone negotiating today

Books, videos, podcasts, and articles dedicated to the topic of negotiation abound, making it somewhat overwhelming to absorb all the advice. To simplify matters, we aim to provide a handful of impactful methods that you can immediately incorporate into your process.

During our discussion, Mélina introduced us to the Anchor Effect, a valuable technique. As a job seeker, it involves establishing a predetermined salary figure that you would genuinely be content with, such as €65,000 per year. When engaging with a company, consider adding an additional €5,000 to €10,000 per annum to this figure, creating a buffer that allows room for negotiation.

To maximise the effectiveness of this approach, it's important to disclose your current salary. This not only demonstrates your commitment to market research but also showcases transparency and an understanding of your skill value. If you believe you are currently underpaid, don't hesitate to communicate this to the prospective employer. If you are uncertain about your market value, you can utilise resources like Compensation data and software solutions | Payscale UK, or explore platforms like Crunchbase: Discover innovative companies and the people behind them to gain insights into your current team's financial situation and other relevant research that reveals market average salaries.

Furthermore, as we've previously explained, it's crucial to connect the dots during the interview process. Understand why the company needs you and what unique contributions you can bring to the team. This deeper understanding should empower you to negotiate a more favourable overall package when your value aligns with the company's needs.

Alex shared a valuable insight that holds significance for those engaged in negotiations or job applications: shift your focus towards companies that can truly bring you joy in your role. Instead of becoming fixated on monetary aspects, which are necessary for meeting your financial obligations but may not dramatically alter your life, remain open to negotiation possibilities. Ultimately, the key is to identify and prioritise your own happiness in the position, a matter only you can truly assess.

 

What to avoid doing at all costs

Mistakes happen, this is the only way to grow in our opinion. However, there are some mistakes that happen more than often and can be detrimental to your application. We asked each of our three guests the number one thing they would suggest job seekers avoid at all costs when negotiating a job offer, giving you three clear actions to take away with from this article at the very least.

Andreas expressed that job seekers should not change their expectations last minute and only negotiate or voice their wishes at the end. This can make you as a candidate look dishonest and can backfire if you only marginally received the offer over someone else, the team are well within their right to retract the offer right up until pen hits paper.

Mélina would encourage job seekers to be honest with themselves about what they need to earn in terms of compensation and listen to the company’s budget. If you are over at the beginning, self-reflect, if it is the perfect match then continue but if it is one of many then it would be better for yourself to not waste your own time and focus elsewhere.

Finally, Alex shared that if you have been approached for an opening not to simply negotiate on a text message without knowing the specifics of a role. Understand what is required, what you will learn and what is fully being offered, if there is a strong match there is room to negotiate.

 

Negotiating is an art form. But there are some simple ways to get what you want without being a master at the craft. You negotiate every day of your life from where to eat with a loved one to what pub to go to with friends. Negotiating your job offer comes around only so often for a few of us, hence why there seems to be this huge stigma about getting it right.

You will make mistakes, learn from them and grow.

Use the advice from Andreas, Mélina and Alex to guide you but most importantly understand your own needs then discuss these with prospective companies openly. You will find that negotiating becomes a lot easier when everyone is on the same page.

It was a pleasure learning from our guests, if you believe their insights are useful please feel free to share within your own network so we can collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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