You've made it to the end of the hiring process. Your references have been checked, interviews completed, and you get a call from someone at the organization with an offer. What do you do? Do you accept on the spot? Do you ask for time? Attempt to negotiate? AHHHHHHH!!!

First, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on being the candidate the company wants to hire. Now that you have taken a deep breath, do not accept the offer right away. See if there is an opportunity to negotiate.

When an offer has been extended by an organization but has yet to be accepted by the candidate, this period is the pivotal time candidates have to influence their salary. Be your own best advocate and see if you can increase the initial offer. After all, if you will be doing the same job, wouldn't you rather make more money doing it?

In compensation negotiations, there are two strategies to take: the Hard Ask or the Soft Ask.

The Hard Ask is when you put it all on the line in an attempt to get your desired salary. This is a situation where you are okay walking away from the job if the compensation package does not reach a certain point. This typically plays out by a candidate directly saying to an organization it will take $XX for me to accept the position, and either the organization comes up with the money, or they don't and you walk away.

The Soft Ask is for a candidate who fully intends to take the position, but is inquiring to see if they can get a few extra pennies out of the organization. This approach avoids hard numbers, but instead probes the person with questions to determine if the salary can be increased. These questions include, "Is there any ability for the salary to be increased?" or "Is this your best offer?" in the hopes the person extending the offer has a willingness to engage in dialogue.

Regardless of the approach, there are a few keys to a successful negotiation.

  1. Be respectful in your tone/approach. If you treat the person extending the offer as an enemy instead of a resource, you are unlikely to make much headway.
  2. Ask if there is any room to negotiate
  3. Have a plan before beginning to negotiate. If this means you ask for time to think about the offer, then negotiate the next day, do it.
  4. Know why you are worth the extra money. This can be done by discussing your credentials, prior salary, or, most powerfully, by prior financial impact you've had on an organization.
  5. Do not accept an offer until you are done negotiating. Once you've accepted, whether in writing or verbally, your ability to influence the process diminishes significantly.

Always ask if there is room for negotiation prior to accepting any job offer.
Always ask if there is room for negotiation prior to accepting any job offer.