New Job Offer? Here’s What to Negotiate On (Negotiating Part 2)
When you are offered a new job (especially if it sounds like an awesome opportunity), it is easy to want to jump at the “first” offer. Being excited is understandable; after all, it’s incredibly flattering to be the one they chose.
But before you bow down to that initial job offer, I want you to consider what you are really committing to…. First, make sure this new position actually fits with what you are needing in your next job.
Now, we all know why we work, right? For most of the population, it’s because we have to work to pay the bills! Therefore, it makes a ton of sense that when you receive a formal job offer, you’d first be thinking about the salary more than any other aspect of the job…. But let’s be honest, though we all want more money, more money ALONE doesn’t equal a happier, more fulfilled you.
Here’s the thing, the salary really is a huge part in the deciding factor of whether or not you should take the new job, and I’m going to teach you ALL about how to negotiate salary so that you can be paid as much as feasibly possible (it is coming in an upcoming blog post) so don’t think that salary isn’t important; it TOTALLY is!!! But I want to expand your mind on THE WHOLE PICTURE this week about what a job offer really is, and it’s not just about money.
Whatever new job you take has to do with how you are going to be spending a large part of your waking hours over the next however many years you commit to a company or project, and I want to help you make sure that you are going to be as happy and comfortable as possible while doing that job!
It’s not just you agreeing to exchange your time, energy, and/or value for a paycheck. Your new job actually needs to meet the needs that your previous job didn’t, or else you are going to end up like a broken record on repeat—looking for a new job again this time next year.
That, my friends, is why I want you to see the big picture when it comes to negotiating EVERY aspect you need to about the new job/role you’ve just been offered!
After all, there is a reason why you put yourself through all of the effort of networking, tailoring resumes to job descriptions, and practicing interviewing. My guess, there are things about your current/previous job that don't/didn’t meet your needs adequately.
First things first, I need you to be crystal clear on what your needs are.
- What was your old job “missing?”
- What do you need in your new job to feel happier and more fulfilled?
Once you define that, I’m going to go over what “a new job offer” really is, and what aspects of it you can and should negotiate on.
Let’s jump in with an analogy!
I LOVE ice cream. But guess what, my waistline doesn’t. Also, sorry if it’s TMI, but I actually think my digestive system HATES ice cream (doesn’t mean I don’t still eat it sometimes!).
So a few decades back, some genius figured out that the health conscious population wanted an alternative to the late night weekend treat and came up with frozen yogurt, a lower fat/calorie alternative to going out for ice cream.
The thing is, frozen yogurt alone tastes okay…, but they realized that they needed to make it more enticing. So to incentivize it, they put out a bunch of toppings you could choose from, things to put on top of it to make it taste BETTER.
Not sure about your city, but my town has our share of fro-yo places, and you can get anything from gummy worms, to chopped strawberries, to whipped cream, to marshmallow goo. Turns out, you can make it as fattening and calorie rich as you want—or—leave it bland!
I want you to think of negotiating the terms of your new job a bit like you would the process of building your ideal cup of frozen yogurt.
How sad would it be if you just picked the plain flavor of yogurt and didn’t realize that there were all sorts of toppings and additions you COULD have had?
What do you need on there (not just the bare minimum) to make it taste as good as possible?
When it comes to negotiating the terms of a new job, there are SEVERAL “flavor enhancers” you may want to consider asking about. Here are just a few (we’ll go over more in a minute).
– Remote work or a hybrid work arrangement
– Flexibility of schedule
– Equity (stock) in the company
– Additional PTO time
– Maternity/paternity leave
Those are just a few things that many people overlook asking about. When you only think in dollar signs ($-a-l-a-r-y) you may end up in grass that initially looked greener but actually isn’t much better than what you left behind.
Okay, why are you REALLY leaving your previous job?
Did the boss suck? Were they constantly giving you the most boring parts of projects? Did you start stagnating—your job became too easy and you felt like you weren’t learning, growing, or being pushed anymore?
Did your job lack boundaries? They expected you to answer email and messages A.S.A.P., even after hours or on the weekend?
Were you undervalued for your contributions? Did you hate the power structure, total micromanagement? Did they withhold giving you the resources you needed to actually succeed at your job?
Were you constantly struggling to focus because you found your work meaningless and boring? Did you not like the kinds of customers you had to deal with? Did you not resonate with the product, service, or business you were promoting?
If any of these potential reasons for leaving feeling like an “AMEN,” bless you for getting yourself out of there!
Okay, so to MAKE SURE THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN ALL OVER AGAIN (I don’t want you to get stuck on Groundhog Day) you need to write out a list of why you are leaving AND what you need to be happier in this new job. Go ahead and do that, RIGHT NOW.
Maybe your list of things you want in your new job could include:
– I need them to provide me an ergonomic workstation and computer that’s actually up-to-date
– I want them to provide me a professional development opportunity (or the funding for one) so I can keep my skills fresh
– I want to know up front that there are fast tracks to promotion and real opportunities for growth with the company
– I need to know that I have my own office space and can block off “undisturbed” work hours
– I only want to be placed on projects within my area of expertise
What a new job offer really is…
and how to meet the needs of you AND your employer
Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and researcher for Wharton’s school of business says that negotiations are all about two things: results and relationships. [*]
YOU applied for the new job, because you want the “results” of getting a better work situation. AN EMPLOYER offered you the new job because they see in you the potential to give them the “results'' of getting a specific job done. They want you to help solve a problem their company needs solved. Negotiating the terms of that new job is part of building and creating a relationship where both parties get their core needs met.
Unlike what some people think, negotiating isn’t a battlefield. Think of it as a way to create a peace treaty. It’s both people making sure that they get what they need.
So first, let’s think about it from the employer’s perspective. Then we can talk about it from your (the job seeker’s) perspective, so that you can fairly figure out how to make sure you are getting what you need.
#1 Figure out what the employer values and where their interests lie.
During the interview process, it should have become clear to you what they need out of the person who’s going to do the job. They were sufficiently confident that you will be that person.
When it comes to organizations, they really need two things from their employees: to feel like they have a level of control over you and what you produce and that they can coordinate your efforts.
#2 Do your part in making sure what you are asking for is what you really need and want.
As an employee, at your core, you need an organization to provide you with a level of structure, stability and predictability. [*] When those things are in place, in order to thrive at work your employer has to provide you with a certain level of autonomy and creative freedom in your work (you get to choose what, how, and when you do certain things).
(Just a little side note about feeling fulfilled at work. A bunch of really smart people researched and found that to meet your highest needs in a job, you also need to feel you have a friend at work (and the opportunity to be sociable) and that you are respected and valued for the work you do. [*])
So in short, employer needs: control and coordination in making sure you get the “job” done. Employee needs: a level of structure, stability, predictability, autonomy, and creativity.
What aspects of a job can you negotiate on?
As long as an employer feels like they are still the one “in control,” that they know you will get the job done, you really can negotiate on any terms or aspect of a job that will provide you the amount of structure, stability, predictability, autonomy, and creativity that you personally feel you need to get the job done in a way that works best for you.
Now naturally, everything has to do with what kind of job you want and what industry you are in, but here are some of the basic things to consider adding to the “new job negotiation conversation." (Just a reminder, it’s so important to NOT try and negotiate on any of these things during the interview process; you want to wait until they’ve officially extended a solid job offer to start negotiating!)
Like I said at the beginning of this post, we will go over the nuts and bolts of how to negotiate salary in a blog post coming soon, but the best thing you can do is talk to people currently doing the role, or a similar job, and find out what they are being paid.
[Caveat: don’t ask people who are demographically similar to you because it will give you a narrow view on what range of salary actually exists for the role. What do I mean by this?
So, as much as we try to get rid of discrimination in the workplace, it still exists. That means that you need to ask people who are DIFFERENT to you (gender, religion, race, etc.) about what they get paid doing a specific job role so you have the most realistic idea of what salary range exists for that role.]
In addition to having these conversations, check out this blog post for help to determine your market value: Know Your Worth Before Negotiating Salary (Negotiating Part 1).
The Work Model
I recently read an article about how hybrid work models are here to stay. It’s worth a read. I think before the pandemic everyone had one concept of what work is, and how it needed to be done, but then we were all put in a position where we couldn’t be face-to-face. Turns out that a lot of people like having the opportunity to take care of aspects of their jobs from home (or the beach or wherever).
Since many companies figured out how to let their employees do remote work, if it’s something that would help improve your work life balance, you may want to consider negotiating a model that works better for your life circumstances.
Flexibility of Schedule
Who said that we need to keep the 9-5? My company is a good example of this. We have specific meetings at specific times throughout the week, but other than that, I really don’t care what time of day (or week) the majority of my employees get their work done, just as long as they ARE getting it taken care of. I don’t care if it’s at 5 a.m. or 10 p.m. Whatever works for them!
Before the pandemic, a lot of companies feared that embracing remote work and more flexible schedules was going to create a working class of slackers. Lucky for you and me, we’ve seen over the last couple of years that that isn’t the case!
Now obviously allowing a very high level of flexibility of schedule doesn’t work for every company or job role, but maybe you could negotiate a later start time on Wednesdays so that you can regularly grab breakfast with a friend or an earlier leave time on Fridays so that you have more time to play with your kids. Or whatever arrangement that would make your work and life more manageable for you–whatever that looks like on your end.
More PTO and Vacation Time
Some companies pay their PTO and vacation time out of different accounts from where your regular salary comes from. What this means is that if they claim to not be able to budget or afford the higher salary you are asking for, you could ask for extra time off and that would actually come out of a different budget (meaning they can’t play the card that they can’t afford it). As long as you aren’t excessive in your request, you could end up with an extra couple weeks of time off in a year.
Are you about to have a baby? Is your wife going to in five months? A lot of people overlook that these aspects of taking care of family life (maternity and paternity leave) can be negotiated into the terms and conditions of your new employment.
Having babies isn’t the only reason you can negotiate leave; maybe you have religious needs at a specific time each year and you don’t want it to come out of your regular PTO.
Not every reason for leave can be anticipated beforehand, but the aspects of life that you already know are coming are worth discussing upfront with your potential employer. Also bear in mind that there is paid and unpaid leave, so depending on how much of it you are wanting or needing, it may end up eating into your salary.
Equipment & Resources
Whether you are in an office building, at home doing fully remote work, or if you do manual labor out in the community, things like a good desk, chair, new computer, printer, help paying for high speed internet, the software that needs to be installed that you prefer working on, up-to-date tools, good transportation, and ready access to the things you need to be the most productive and successful, are all realistic things to get an upfront “yes” on.
Opportunities for Advancement (Promotion)
Not every company and employer has tracks built in to help you advance with the company. It is worth asking questions about time frames and opportunities towards promotions and advancement. You can even be so specific as to ask about particular job titles and what would be necessary for you to get on track towards them.
Professional Development Opportunities
Whether you are a surgeon or a technician, either you or your employer will need to make sure that you are up-to-date in your skills and the latest technology. Ask questions upfront to find out about if they budget or set aside resources that help you keep your skills up-to-date and competitive with others in your industry or field.
Types of Work/Projects (what you do and don’t take on)
Depending on the size of the company you are going to work at, they will either have you focusing exclusively on one type of project, task, or subject matter, or they may spread out a wide variety of responsibilities across a team.
Talking upfront about your strengths and preferred areas of focus will help you not get a ton of projects thrown at you that you don’t want to take part in. For example, let’s say you have a degree in journalism, so you like to write, but you don’t really enjoy editing. In an agreeable way, you can discuss what types of projects they would be allocating to you while letting them know it isn’t your preference to be part of the major editing projects, such as checking the website for errors, etc.
Level of Autonomy
It’s smart to ask about the way they like their employees to report back on the status of projects/their individual work. Ask questions about the management style of the people you will be working with, and discuss ways that will help you personally take responsibility for your workload while remaining at your highest level of productivity. If having regular “do not disturb” hours is important to you (it should be to all of us) you can bring this up, discussing how it is necessary for you to give 110% to your work.
Remember that the employer and organization want “control” and “coordination,” so you have to be the one to set the boundaries you need.
Some companies offer their new employees the opportunity to receive stock in the business. The way you benefit from this largely depends on things like how the company does financially in coming years, how long you decide to stay with the business as an employee, and a variety of other factors. Here are a couple articles for understanding how equity in a company works: How Employee Equity Works, How do Stock Options Work?
Other things you may want to consider…
On top of all that, these are some other areas you may want to consider negotiating on (depending on the industry, company, and job role), things like: your specific job title, the start date, travel reimbursement, moving/relocation expenses, day care or babysitter costs, tuition reimbursement or repayment of student loans, commuting reimbursement, sign on bonuses, commissions, if they have a corporate wellness program you could potentially get reimbursed on things like visits with a dietician or gym membership (yeah, pretty cool!).
Things like the retirement contributions (401Ks) and health insurance are policies that have likely been preworked out to stay uniform throughout the company and typically are not up for negotiation.
I just covered a lot!
If you have any questions, shoot me an email or ask us in the Refer Facebook group! Keep on the lookout, I’ll be going over the “how to” of negotiating salary in an upcoming blog post!
Helping people get the career of their dreams!
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