Don’t be afraid to negotiate

If you are like most recent graduates or job seekers, you’re thrilled to get a job offer. So thrilled you barely read through the details before becoming giddy. Then you get to the salary and it’s a little lower than you’d hoped and the benefits could be better.

Don’t fret, you are expected to negotiate. “Even in tough times, most companies expect you to negotiate,” according to The Galima Group, a partner of The Berkeley Center for Executive Development at UC Berkeley. Not to mention, when you respectfully negotiate, you demonstrate the business skills the company want you to employ on the job, this article from Forbes states.

As noted in The Galima Group post, look for subtle hints that the hiring manager is open to negotiation. “For example, many managers may say, ‘why don’t you look over the offer and call me if you have any questions’.”

An offer typically includes more than just the paycheck. Including:

  • Signing bonus
  • Vacation, sick days, personal days
  • Maternity / family leave
  • Flex-time or ability to telecommute
  • Professional training (continuing education, conference attendance, etc.)
  • Job sharing
  • Start date
  • Stock options
  • Performance bonuses
  • Accelerated review time with potential salary increase
  • Job duties
  • Company car
  • Company credit card
  • Expense accounts

You’ll want to first ask yourself what are the top three or five things to you. It’s ok if money is at the top or on the list!

“As long as you act respectfully, you have nothing to lose by asking what the company can do to bring you closer to your desired salary,” according to this Career Builder article.

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My Single Piece of Advice to 2010 Graduates (PR or not)

Photo from: Ricomoss
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve made this mistake more than once. A few times, it has worked out well for me. Others have been total disasters.

Don’t accept the first job offer that comes your way, just because it is the first.

Think about that for a minute. Job hunting is scary. It is intimidating and isn’t easy. But trying to fit yourself into a company that doesn’t work for you or a boss with a personality that doesn’t mesh with yours is worse. Unless the position is a perfect fit and will offer you everything you want in a company, culture and in personal relationships with co-workers, it is ok to turn it down.

Yes, your parents might be disappointed and your friends might not understand, but they are not the ones who will have to work there for nine hours (or more!) a day, five (or more!) days per week.

It is perfectly fine to turn down a job you wouldn’t find the work interesting. Of if after the interview you have a gut feeling that it wouldn’t be a good fit. Don’t ignore that. Don’t just say, well it might not be so bad. You have instincts for a reason.

I was on one interview where my possible future boss, stepped on every sentence I had. She was a bit abrasive even in the interview setting. If I had listened to my gut, I would have realized that if she acts this way now, she’ll be even worse if I actually worked for her. And she was.

If I hadn’t just accepted that job off the bat and had waited just a week more, I could have accepted a job in a better environment, with a more collegial staff. I didn’t accept because I had just started a new job. I still kick myself for that.

There are many resources available to you to help decide if an offer is right for you. Just start with Google or your Help a PR Pro Out comrades. In the end, it is your choice. If it doesn’t feel like a choice, consider that a sign that it might be worth waiting for the next opportunity.