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Accepting the Offer

There's nothing worse than accepting a salary and regretting it immediately. For your long term career satisfaction, you'll want to be paid both what you and your new role are worth. Karalyn Brown of job search consultancy Interview IQ, gives you an insider's advice what to do when the offer's been tabled.

Accepting the offer – salary negotiation

The scenario is this. The hard work is done. You've had a number of interviews with everyone from the recruitment consultant to the MD. Your references have been checked. Your qualifications are established and the HR Manager is on the phone offering you the role. And then there's a pause..., the salary is lower than you anticipated.

This can be a stressful situation, particularly if you were expecting a much higher package. And if this is a role you really would like and potentially a dynamic company to work for, it's tempting to make life easy for everyone and accept the offer as tabled.

However, it's critical at this point to recognize the pressure of this situation and give yourself some time to consider the offer.

Why take time?

If you accept an offer that doesn't meet your expectations, and is much lower than the market rate, then regardless of the remuneration review policy of your future employer, you will find it difficult to catch up to the market on salary. Couple this, with working extremely long hours and making some personal sacrifices in the position, you may find yourself regretting that you accepted the role. You may even resent the employer.

Furthermore, most companies work within salary bands for positions and do have additional dollars or benefits to offer. If you've not discussed salary with the employer up until this point the HR manager will know that. Before you receive the call to offer you the job, the discussion around the HR table will be "what do you think this person will accept?" In essence there should be some room to move.

Things to consider about negotiating

  • You need to be offered the job. If you are short listed and amongst equally qualified candidates, you could quite possibly miss out if you request a salary that is higher than the employer is willing to pay. You are in a much stronger position to negotiate if the employer wants only you.
  • By starting to negotiate you do run a risk that the employer will say first and final offer. Or even withdraw the offer. Only you are in the best position to decide this. You can make this call based on your knowledge and research of the company, the feedback from the interview and the current employment market. If the offer stands as tabled, consider then whether you really want this role, or, if you want to work for a company that is so inflexible.
  • Don't waste your time or the company's by entering into negotiation if you have no intention of accepting the offer. The purpose of negotiation is to find common ground between two or more parties.
  • If you are fortunate to have more than one offer, consider each offer on its merits. Never pit one company's bid against another. A bidding war rarely succeeds. (This also applies if your current company makes a counter offer)
  • The aim of any negotiation is win – win. Obviously, you want to get the best deal, but you also need to let the employer feel that they are getting value for money as well. A point worth remembering is that if you are successful in negotiating a salary that is far greater than others receive employed in the company in a similar role, you may receive less at future remuneration reviews (as equity amongst colleagues is always a consideration).
  • The strongest position to hold in any negotiation is one you can walk away from. You may not be in this position if you really need the job, have had only one offer and little prospect of other offers. If you have to have this job and this job only, be more careful in your negotiations.
  • Be absolutely sure of your bottom line. Negotiations are over once the employer has agreed to your request. It creates a very bad impression if you then ask for additional benefits. You risk having the employer's offer withdrawn.
  • Consider negotiating the offer verbally in preference to in writing. But only if you are extroverted, convincing and confident of your ability to do so. For a more senior role, request a meeting. Otherwise by telephone will do. The benefit of verbal negotiation is that you can resolve issues quickly, but you do need to write your points down.
  • The alternative is to put your request in writing, which gives you time to frame your argument precisely. You can also ensure you have all points covered. However you cannot gauge the reaction of the employer when they read your letter and take your response cue from there. Just as it may seem easy to write a letter, it's just as easy for the employer to turn your request down by this medium and it's a difficult position to recover negotiations from.
  • Within reasonable limits nominate a higher salary than you are willing to accept so that if the employer counters your proposal, the salary should be near your original goal.

How to negotiate

1. Once the offer is made thank the employer. Be very polite and friendly. State your interest in the role and importantly tell them why you are interested. Say that the salary is not quite as high as you thought it would be and as changing jobs is not a decision you take lightly, ask for the offer to be sent in writing to evaluate. That way you know exactly what is on offer. Request time to consider it.

2. If you haven't done so already, do some salary research to determine a fair market value. The greatest tool in negotiation is information. There are many published surveys which will give you a range of salaries for your position. Check whether these include superannuation and other benefits. You can even contact a recruitment consultant in your field for information. Consider also economic, geographic, industry, and company-specific to factors.

3. Revisit your current role. Clarify your responsibilities and achievements and consider what you are capable of. This will increase your confidence and you may need to bring this up when you are negotiating.

4. Consider the success you will have in the new role and ideas you may have to exceed the employer's performance objectives. Examples are cost savings, improved productivity, and increased sales revenue.

5. Contact the employer. Be very positive, professional and friendly throughout the conversation. Never make demands. There are many ways the negotiation will flow. However ensure you:

  • Thank them again for the offer
  • Reiterate your interest in the company and the role
  • Explain the research you have done
  • Cover what you can bring to the role and contribute to the company
  • Keep positive and reiterating your strengths
  • Nominate the salary and package you would accept.
  • Allow time for reply

6. The employer may react in any number of ways. Be prepared for complete acceptance to agreeing to some concessions to refusal to negotiate. And also be prepared for the employer to take time to make some concessions. They also need to maintain their integrity during the process.

7. If the final offer is still too low. Take some time and decide if you really want the role. If you decide yes, suggest a period of review, based on you achieving some objectives. If the employer rejects this idea, consider carefully what you can accept and what is more important to you, the money, the company or the role.

9. Always get the final offer in writing and be extremely wary of companies that are not willing to do so.

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About Karalyn Brown

Karalyn has over 10 years experience as a decision maker in recruitment, in a consultancy and in corporate HR. Karalyn owns and runs Interview IQ who provide personalised interview coaching and job search advice. For more information visit www.interviewiq.com.au.

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