If you’re new to the workforce and are applying for your first full-time job, then you might be wondering how job negotiations go. To help guide you through this process, I reached out to Danielle Melendy, Director of People and Culture at Clique Brands, with an abundance of questions in regards to negotiating a job offer. As a student planning on graduating in a year from now, I have a lot of concerns about how to go about getting what I want given my limited experience. What exactly should I be asking for? How do I know what to say? The list goes on. Because I know I’m not alone in my confusion, I’ve put together a list of Danielle’s tips on how to negotiate a job offer
Learn the Difference Between a Job Offer and a Salary
Before you do anything, it’s important to understand that a job’s salary is only part of the job offer. Danielle explains, “I would look at your offer holistically rather than just narrowing in on the salary.” Not sure what that means? Below are some aspects of the offer she encourages everyone to consider and, if possible, negotiate.
- Benefits: This is something that can put money right back in your pocket. It’s important to check if the company you’re going to work for covers other costs like vision, dental, medical, and long or short-term disability. You should also check to see if they reimburse tuition, help cover the cost of commuting, or offer parental leave.
- Perks: Some companies may offer complimentary food, workout classes, massages, and meditation. Most perks aren’t mentioned in the interview, but learning what they are can help you save a lot of money.
- Stock: This is significant, and in some cases, can be more valuable than your salary, as stock allows you to own part of the company in comparison to the total shares issued. The first company Danielle worked for offered her 1000 stock options (standard for an entry-level position). Five years later, the company went public and she cashed the stock for about $50,000.
- Vacation: Time off is important for your health, so make sure there is flexibility in the amount of days you’re allotted for vacation. Try to negotiate if you’re only offered a few days off, because some companies may be willing to increase that number.
- Flexible work schedule: Check to see if your potential employer offers you the ability to work remotely, early or half days, or a holiday schedule. Danielle says that having the option to work from home can be a major plus if your commute is far.
- Bonus: Find out how bonuses work at your company, when they are paid, and how many people actually receive a full bonus. Also, learn if this pay is based on the work that you do personally or how well the company is doing overall. If the work that you do is largely independent, the former may be a better option.
- Salary vs. hourly pay: This distinction should be made in the offer. Look for your salary amount (which is a limit to the amount of money you can make) or hourly rate and your overtime rate. Overtime can allow you to make a lot more money for each extra hour you work. The average overtime rate is about one and a half times your regular hourly wage. (For example, if your hourly wage is $15, then your overtime hourly wage will be around $22.50.)
- Development: Look for companies that offer communication training, manager’s training, a development plan, and a manager that is willing to give you one on one feedback—all of these things are crucial to your personal career growth.
Understand Who You’re Negotiating With
Danielle explains that any negotiation will likely happen with a recruiter or manager. “I would keep in mind that when you are negotiating with your manager, you are going to be working for this person, so be realistic and have an honest conversation about why you are asking for a certain salary.” As Harvard Business Review explains, “Negotiating with a prospective boss is very different from negotiating with an HR representative. You can perhaps afford to pepper the latter with questions regarding details of the offer, but you don’t want to annoy someone who may become your manager with seemingly petty demands.” Feel the situation out first, and then decide what you’re going to ask for and how you’re going to do it.
Don’t Discount Your Untraditional Background
If you’re taking an untraditional route (e.g., you studied business but want to work in editorial), there is often a notion that you need to be more flexible. But when I asked Danielle about this, she told me that it’s not necessarily true. “Do you have personal experience to backup your untraditional background (like running your own blog or ecommerce business)? Does your untraditional background offer you a unique outlook or skillset? Think of your experience as everything from an internship, side job, passion project, volunteer opportunity, or hobby,” she says. Just because you haven’t had a job in a specific field doesn’t mean you don’t have extensive knowledge in that area, so make sure to bring everything you have to the table.
Know Your Limits—and Theirs
“Someone once told me that buying a house is a lot like accepting a new job,” says Danielle. “During the negotiation process, the buyer (the company) is going to try to get the best price without overpaying, and the seller (the candidate) is going to try to get the best price without giving away too much. If the buyer really wants the house, they may be willing to pay more than they had budgeted for within reason. But if they don’t really want the house or it’s over their budget, they’ll hold on to their money and find one that they like almost as much for the price they can pay.” She goes on to explain, “It doesn’t ever hurt to ask for more, but you should also know going in what you would be willing to settle for. Consider the whole package, and if you aren’t able to get an offer you feel is fair, then the company may not be for you.” Know what you want before going into the negotiation process if you want to reach a mutually satisfying agreement. Not sure where to draw the line? Be sure to do some market research on the average salary of your position beforehand. Look on websites like Jobstar, Salary, and Glassdoor to give you an idea of what others in the same role are being paid. You can use your findings as a base to know whether the company is giving you a fair offer, or whether it may be time to just move on.
Plan Your Argument
Most employers won’t just say yes to your salary negotiation right off the bat, so be prepared to deliver all the reasons that you deserve more. MyDomaine explains that when going to bat for yourself over an offer, you should “Start with some enthusiasm. Then add, ‘The number I had in mind was more $X because …’ and explain why you are worth it. Giving hard facts about successes you’ve had at your previous role (or roles) will help you make your case.” Don’t simply ask for more money because you want it. It’s important to be confident and knowledgeable about what you’re asking for and why.
Take Time to Think About It
“Know your worth!” says Danielle. “If you receive an offer and it is less than what you were hoping for, say ‘Thank you so much for this opportunity! I’d like to read this over when I have some time to spend on it tonight. Can I get back to you tomorrow or on Monday (if it is Friday)?’ This will give you some time to gather your thoughts and put together your questions.” In the moment, it can be easy to get intimidated about asking for more, so taking a step back will allow you to remind yourself what you want and what you’re worth. If you start to feel overwhelmed, Danielle advises that you ask a parent, sibling, mentor or professor to review your job offer before you sign it. Having someone else review your offer can allow you to gain insight from another point of view and help you consider things you might not have noticed before.
Have you ever negotiated a job offer? Share your tips in the comments below!
Featured photo by @sammynap.