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Negotiating a salary when offered job

Joined
31 July 2001
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5,193
Location
Boston, MA
I'm a tech guy, I'm not any good at talking about money, it makes me uncomfortable. One of the first things I was asked during my phone interview was how much I was looking for to make sure nobody's time was wasted. I tried to be vague but they wanted a number. I gave them a realistic area as to where I needed to be without a specific number and they said they could definitely work with that.

5 rounds of interviewing later, I was offered the job today, but the salary they are offering is a little less than what I'm making now. I'm really interested in the position and I would consider taking it at what they are offering as my commuting costs are less which offsets the loss, but I'd like to be able to negotiate for more without essentially giving an ultimatum.

Any advice?
 
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I believe in a situation like this that being honest is your best policy. I assume they are offering you less than the original number that you told them. Most companies are willing to adjust the salary for an employee that they feel is good. I would let them know what you are making now and what you originally requested and ask them to come back with a better offer. If they stand firm you can still take the job and if they offer more that is better yet.

You could also ask for some type of perk, such as a car allowance.

Good Luck!
 
+1.

Don't be too fixated on the actual number but what perks you can request that perhaps more senior staff receive - especially if they are non-taxable benefits. It gives them a choice of tossing a perk or more actual dollars as income. This also will give them an idea of your needs.
 
Hmmm, good ideas... perhaps I could negotiate a work from home day once a week if their hands are tied in regards to salary. I will be working quite a bit with the europe branch
 
When I was in a similar situation, I told my prospective new employer (actually, their recruiter) how much compensation I was currently receiving--including time off, 401k matching, bonuses, and benefits. Even though the new job was much closer to home, I asked if they would up their offer by 5% more than what I was currently making to make the pay competitive and worthwhile for me to make the jump, and they agreed.

Good luck to you Rob!
 
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I hate negotiating the salary. Sometimes, if you throw too high a number at them, they just don't even bother calling you back. If you go too low, you miss out on what they have to offer.

I think the general rule is that the first person to mention a number "loses."

They way I've been taught is to research the job, find the typical salary for someone with your quals in the same job, with same experience etc. Then, based on that, decide on three figures: your absolute minimum, your "reasonable offer" and your "dream come true."

If they actually offer you your dream come true, then don't try to push higher, just take it. If they offer you below your minimum, walk, or negotiate higher.

As for me, I find that it helps to have a little bit of knowledge as to what is typical salary for that job before I go in.

I honestly just prefer for the salary to be listed with whatever material is advertising the job (or at least present the salary up front).
 
If you have made it through 5 rounds of interviews...then they want you..so no harm in telling them your current salary ,that you are a family man,have certain fixed costs,and I believe that if you are positive and upbeat about thier offer your little negotiation should pay off.whatever you do try to negotiate out any contracts that severly limit your ability to increase your income,or that restrict your ability to moonlight,if you so choose.
 
You also have to consider if they are providing your health insurance. If so, thats about an additional $600.00 perk, give or take.
 
Lots of good points here.

I work in technology and for a while I didn't really get the
negotiation process either. Hiring managers are doing
it all the time which put me at a disadvantage.

One day someone told me the key to getting what you want
in negotiation is being willing to walk away
and then it all
made a lot more sense. Perhaps it's an obvious point, but
I missed seeing it at first.
 
Some good advice so far. I'll add to try to keep the focus on what matters. Most people respond with 'duh' or something less polite but they fail to focus on what matters.

For instance, your worth to the company does NOT depend on:
a) your commute or how much it costs
b) your housing costs
c) if you have a (costly) family
d) how much you made at your previous job
e) how much you think you should make

These are common points people bring up during interviews, a few of which I've been on the "other" side of. These are clearly totally irrelevant to your worth if approached logically.

What does matter:
a) approximate market rate of your skills
b) your job history (working at least 2 years at each position is a bonus)
c) how quickly you can begin work
d) how quickly you can adapt to the environment (begin productive work)
e) how well you get along with previous teams/management you've worked with
f) demonstrated flexibility/dedication to the project (working extra when necessary, working under pressure, etc.)

Hope that helps. I personally would not start off negotiations with any items from the first list and would definitely start off with at least one or two from the 2nd list. Another tip is make sure you understand what you're asking for. I had a guy ask me for very unusual stock options. A NYSE listed firm is not going to invest the time to construct one off stock options for anyone other than top management.
 
Tell them you are excited about joining the company and although the offer is below what you need to take care of your family you would appreciate the opportunity to show how valuable you are to the company over the next 90 days to demonstrate why your salary should be adjusted at that time.
 
This exact same situation happened to my wife less than a month ago.

She interviewed with a company and went through 3-4 rounds before they gave her an offer that was $1000 less than what she currently makes.

Her theory is that the first offer was purposely given low such that she couldn't take it and use it to negotiate other possible offers (they don't want to get in a bidding war with you).

My theory is that they purposely offer you low in the case that you'll actually be stupid enough to take it. If you do, that's great and they're happy since they don't have to pay you more.

My advice, never accept the first offer. It can always be better. The company has already invested this much time in you and they have already give you an offer. The worse they can (or will say) to your counter offer is "no". If that's the case, then take what you got and move forward. I have never heard of a company retracting an offer because of a realistic counteroffer.

Anyway, my wife ended up doing a 1 time countering her first offer to go from getting $1000 less than her current to $9000 more than her current (a $10k jump or about 10% more). The company accepted it.

Lastly, its usually always best to try to get the base salary up higher. Signing bonuses are great, but they are a 1 time deal. Salary usually increases year to year, so by starting higher, you end higher in the long run.
 
Depends on your situation.
If you don't have a job, I would take a pay cut to get something.
If you have a job and are looking, I know a few people(I've never done it) who have lied about what they make.
When they interview they say that they currently make 20% more than they really do, and say they would like at least 'a few bucks more'.
One of the guys on my team told me he did it when he started. I know one of our top HR people did too when she started.
 
I always negotiate for something more. Whether it is more compensation, more vacation time, etc. If they can't give you more compensation, try for more vacation or more stock options. All they can say is no. They have already made it clear they want you. Ball is in your court now. :)
 
Thanks for the advice guys, I asked for what I felt was reasonable, a mix of $$ and perks and I was given everything.
 
Depends on your situation.
If you don't have a job, I would take a pay cut to get something.
If you have a job and are looking, I know a few people(I've never done it) who have lied about what they make.
When they interview they say that they currently make 20% more than they really do, and say they would like at least 'a few bucks more'.
One of the guys on my team told me he did it when he started. I know one of our top HR people did too when she started.

Lying about previous wages/earnings is not a good idea - those things are always verified with employment verification and screening. If those people lied and were still hired, it just displays that the company they're working for doesn't properly screen their candidates prior to employment.

Salary negotiations can be challenging, a lot depends on whether or not the position is billable or overhead, and if billable, knowing approximately what the bill rates are and how much of a margin the company needs to make on your in order to cover all of the benefits they're paying for and still make some profit. From there, you can reverse engineer your highest potential earnings rate. If the position is overhead support, then they're obviously going to look for the best qualified for the best value, in the same way we would shop for a car or anything else.
 
If they can't do better on the salary, you can also ask for a signing bonus.

Another thing to consider on signing bonuses, look at it from the employers perspective. Obviously, if they give $$ upfront, they want to be sure you're not going to leave shortly there after as well as they want to be sure that you're the appropriate candidate. When asking for a signing bonus, you can mention or suggest things like.

1. If for any reason the employer is not satisfied or terminates you within the first 90 days, the entire balance of the signing bonus is forfeited and must be reimbursed back to the company. (This is usually standard language, but this is a protection for them).

2. You can also state that you're willing to commit to atleast 1 year with the employer, and if you choose to resign or leave on your own prior to 1 year, you would be willing to forfeit and reimburse the employer the original signing bonus amount. (This does a couple things, it shows the employer you're willing to commit and that you're confident in your abilities and it also gives you some glue to your position, knowing that they are much less likely to terminate you between Day 91 and Day 365.)
 
Does either compay offer 401k matching? Some companies don't match a dime while some offer dollar for dollar matching up to a point. Also some public companies offer an employee stock purchase plan at a discount.


What about chances of climbing the corporate ladder?
 
All irrelevant questions now :). Both companies are small, neither have 401K and neither have a corporate ladder. I'm reporting to the CTO who is based in the Netherlands. I was told to go get a passport ASAP. That's kind of cool. Never been out of the US (Canada and Bahamas don't count) other than once to Brazil for Carnival a zillion years ago.

I signed the paperwork at the new place and gave my notice today, not fun at all but I lined them up with a replacement for me that can start immediately if they want to jump on it. The one good thing about the poor economy, I know far too many very skilled people who are out of work.
 
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