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Job Negotiation Basics

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 29 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Job Negotiation Basics

You have written a great CV. You nailed the interview – and you have been offered the position. Congratulations! You are, of course, nearing the end of the process. But there is one vital and often overlooked element remaining: the negotiation process.

All too frequently, prospective employees simply do not think about negotiation. It is easy to understand why; many are happy enough to have a position at all, particularly in today’s highly competitive job market. But it is important to remember that the employer is not ‘doing you a favour’ by offering you a job, nor are you obliged to take it without discussion. Instead, you should consider negotiating in order to ensure that you get what you deserve.

What Can I Negotiate About?

Until you have signed a contract, virtually everything in your job offer is fair game. Clearly, there are some elements on which the employer is unlikely to budge; the location of your work, for example, unless you are a contractor or they operate from multiple premises. Within reason, though, you can negotiate on virtually everything.

Many people focus first on the headline salary. Of course, everyone would like a bit more cash if possible. But you should consider the negotiation from the employer’s perspective; budget constraints may well mean that they are reticent to increase their salary offering by much. You may therefore get better results by concentrating on fringe benefits like healthcare plans, holiday, and pension schemes. These can often be improved at little cost to the employer – but the impact on your lifestyle may be significant.

When Should Negotiation Start?

Timing is key in a successful job negotiation process. Generally speaking, you should not go to your first interview all guns blazing, demanding a salary increase and 40 days’ holiday. This is likely to be an immediate turn-off for the employer.

Instead, wait until you have received an offer or a serious expression of interest. Then, instead of accepting the offer, ask for some more time to consider it. Make clear that you need to take a few days over the decision because of how highly you value the opportunity. A firm that really wants you will wait for you. Remember, though, that once you accept an offer your opportunity for negotiation is basically over. You must therefore ensure that you do not rush to an impulsive decision.

What if the Employer Won’t Budge?

In some cases the employer will simply refuse to negotiate, particularly if they are strapped for cash or if the position is close to entry-level. In these instances you need to determine whether or not you are willing to take the job as it is currently offered.

Many prospective employees are concerned about job prospects in the UK, and a large number find it difficult to find suitable positions. But you should consider whether it is worth taking a job for less than you are worth just because it is offered. Clearly this will depend on your personal circumstances – but again, it is worth exercising some caution rather than leaping to an impulse decision.

Starting the process of job negotiation can be nerve-wracking. But remember: it is your right to negotiate. Your employer may take you more seriously if you do, and you can be safe in the knowledge that you are getting the best possible deal.

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