Work-Life 5/28/2015

Job Offers: How To Maximize And Negotiate Them In Your Favor by Leslie Juvin-Acker

So, you took up the gauntlet of the job search: you’ve lived the highs and lows, gone through the mental and emotional wringer of networking and interviewing and now you’ve been presented with an offer. The question is, “What happens now?” Stick with me to find out.

Having worked your magic, you’ve managed to manifest your intentions into a new job opportunity. Now that an offer is on the table, most people breathe a sigh of relief and let their guard down. Not so fast! Be strong just a little bit longer so you (and for the sake of your loved ones at home) can assure a positive outcome.

Accepting a job offer isn’t like throwing a coin into a wishing well, hoping that your requests will be heard. Whether you’ve clawed and scratched your way up through the internal “food chain” or battled your way through hundreds of applicants, now is the time to ask for and secure what you are worth and negotiate a contract that both parties can accept.

Balancing Sacrifices And Compensation

Your potential employer and you have needs and wants to balance out. They want to offer you a certain amount of compensation for an expected amount of work done in a specific way for specific results. In other words, you might be compensated six figures to travel a lot for business, work over 50 hours per week and for the personal sacrifice of not being with your family. Are you willing to accept this arrangement?

Before accepting a job offer, be crystal clear in your sacrifices and contributions in exchange for the financial compensation and prestige a certain job or company may offer. Some people value their family or personal time more than the financial benefits that they could afford for their family and therefore reject offers that are not inline with their life goals. That’s perfectly OK and makes room for others with different arrangements. The point is, accepting an offer must be an act that coincides with your values and priorities.

Negotiating The Complete Value Package

The second key part of accepting a job offer is negotiation. It’s an important step toward cementing the work relationship and establishing a “covenant” of understanding.

From the seven years I’ve been coaching managers and executives, I can tell you that many companies low ball on their first offer and, applicants who are so desperate to get a job and end their jobless misery will accept the first offer. It’s a trap! I’m not saying that most companies are wrong or bad in this approach. After all, if you could get a bro deal and save 20-30%, you would, wouldn’t you? Keep your eyes on the prize.

Go into negotiations knowing your market value - that is, know how much a company would pay for your unique skills, knowledge, and performance AND how much would it cost to replace you. Would it take one month or one year to replace your expertise? If you don’t know do some comparable research or ask me to help you figure that out. What is the cost of living for you and your family? What do you need to earn to buy or rent a home, car(s), education for children, gas, utilities, and other expenditures for living? Do the math and be sure to think about taxes, too.

Then, consider the perks offered by the company. What are the perks and other types of compensation that the job offer lists? Some examples include paid health insurance premiums, educational opportunities, HSA accounts, retirement accounts, profit sharing, company car/phone, products, discounts, free lunches or snacks, sponsored vacations, and discounts at local businesses and associations. The list goes on, so be sure to tally up their value, too.

Once you have considered Part 1) the sacrifice for compensation and Part 2) actual compensation and have done the math, you can go back and negotiate a contract and compensation package that works reasonably for you and your new employer. Be realistic but be bold. They’ll either accept or try to wiggle into something that’s inline with their needs and budget. You might have to go another round of negotiations, but hang tight - it’s doable!

Ensuring Your Goals Align With The Offer

Finally, have the wisdom to accept an offer that fits within your short and long term plans. Both the company and you are presenting opportunities; the job offer is a part of the semantics. Ask yourself, “Am I accepting something that’s right for me? Are the personal sacrifices for compensation worth this exchange?” If so, accept the offer and move forward. If not, professionally decline and work towards someone else who can help you realize your goals.

One of my bragging rights as a job search and leadership coach is that my long term clients, on average, earn 20-30% more with every new job offer they accept. You don’t need a straight poker face like mine during negotiations, but you do need to conduct some preparation and reflection to ensure you’re being fairly compensated for your sacrifices and contributions to make your work worthwhile for everyone.  When we feel like we’re valued, we are more committed and willing to do the very best jobs possible - no matter what you decide to accept.

Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask:

1.    Is the initial job offer lower than discussed during the interview process? What will my counter offer be?

2.    Have I done adequate research on my value (knowledge and performance and replacement cost)? What do I know and what does my research tell me about my worth?

3.    Does the job offer meet my financial needs to ensure my lifestyle is adequately supported? Why or why not?

4.    What are the perks offered besides salary? How much are they worth all together?

5.    Does the work contract fairly compensate me for the personal sacrifices I will have to make? If not, what needs to be negotiated in order to work for me?

6.    Am I willing to accept less for prestige of working in a well-known company? Why or why not?