A mentee of mine recently completed negotiations for her dream job and as I reflected on the advice I gave her a few things stuck out. None of the advice I gave her is necessarily something I created. Instead, it is a culmination of the advice I’ve received and the things I’ve learned along the way myself.
In this particular situation, the salary offer was firm and the benefits (such as health benefits start date, 401k match, insurance premiums, etc.) were also non-negotiable. Taking those elements out of the negotiation actually made it easier for her to ask for some of the quality of life benefits that meant as much as salary to her.
Know Your Perfect Offer
When she started interviewing, she wrote out what her perfect offer would look like. I encouraged her to include a salary range, paid time off and dream big items.
Her list included:
- salary range reflective of her experience and education
- a dedicated stipend for continued learning which could include conference attendance and travel and online certificate programs
- PTO time (combined sick leave and vacation) to at least match what she currently has
- sign-on bonus or relocation expenses
- dedicated salary review timeline with benchmarks
- student loan reimbursement
- if permanent work from home situation office furniture allowance
She used several websites to review the salary range including Glassdoor.com, bls.gov/oes, salary.com, payscale.com and LinkedIn. Then she only applied for positions that were within her range.
After you receive a verbal offer
Once she received a verbal offer, she made a tiny (and very common!) mistake in naming a number above the initial offer. In retrospect, she should have asked for the full offer to compare the benefits and leverage with the knowledge of the company.
Since she was number specific, it wasn’t a big surprise when the recruiter came back that the salary was firm but there was an annual bonus tied to yearly company profits. At that point, she asked a few additional questions such as confirming the position will remain remote even after the pandemic and the estimated travel associated with the position.
Then she waited for the written offer.
Written Offer Next Steps
Once she received the written offer, she was able to counter with some of the other items on her perfect offer checklist.
“I’d like to take the job, but since we were apart on salary, I’d like to discuss other ways to bridge the gap. As this is a dedicated remote position, I’d like to specifically discuss the paid time off, the possibility of a sign-on bonus, dedicated continuing education stipends, student loan assistance and the salary review timeline. Is this a good time to talk about how we can bridge that gap?”
She was then quiet and let the recruiter take a moment to hear what she was saying.
The recruiter thanked her for her feedback and said he would get back to her as soon as possible with the answers to her questions.
At this point, she knew whatever he came back with was the ultimate offer and she would not be able to negotiate again. (Note: two rounds of negotiation is about the max before the recruiter starts seeing red flags.)
The recruiter came back with a small sign-on bonus, the opportunity for a salary review after six months and an extra week of vacation. Knowing she may be able to renegotiate the continuing education stipend in the future and the sign-on bonus would be used for office furniture, she accepted and made sure to say how much she appreciated the recruiter’s work on this offer and that she would be signing it as soon as she received it.
When she received the offer and reviewed it to make sure everything they discussed was in the offer letter, she signed it and returned it. Then she followed up with a phone call to the recruiter to let him know the signed offer was in his inbox, again thank him for his work and reiterate her excitement about joining the team.
She made a few notes to discuss with her manager at the first opportunity that made sense. As she and her manager began discussing the first post-covid all-hands meeting that would involve her travel, she made sure to ask for details on how are travel expenses are handled and what is included.
As it came close to the designated time for her annual salary review, she sent an email to her manager noting that she would like to schedule a meeting for her salary review and after checking her boss’s calendar offered three dates and times.
After six months in the position, she is still happy with the outcome. It didn’t meet all the items on her perfect offer list but it met more than she expected.
Two additional resources for job package negotiation: