Getting a Better Job Offer: Techniques for Negotiating Salaries and More

Experienced job negotiators shared tips on how to ask for more once a job offer is on the table—and how to get what you want.

CIO.com just released its CIO Salary Negotiation Survey findings, which examined how IT and business professionals negotiate during the job offer process. The article looks at the statistics, which demonstrate clearly that those who negotiate do far better than those who do not. But, as the survey data showed:

Being specific in job negotiations pays off. Nine out of ten respondents (92 percent) who outlined their specific requirements said the prospective employer met their requirements at least partway, and they accepted the job. When the negotiation was vague, 83 percent said the company met the requirements....

Get specific. Gotcha. But exactly what do you ask for? Many of us lack confidence in our ability to get the best deal, much in recognizing when we got it. While the chart at the end of the article identified the ten most common items asked for during the final flurry of negotiations (you read it, didn't you? didn't you?), you might appreciate more specific advice. So here I collect a few of the most useful "write-in" answers to our question, "If you could give someone one piece of advice about negotiating a job offer, what would you say?" They were remarkably forthcoming. (For more suggestions, particularly from experts, I recommend Meridith Levinson's awesome article, How to Negotiate an Employment Contract. But then, I'm sure Meridith's grocery lists are eligible for a Pulitzer Prize.)

Always negotiate, they say. Always. "The worst that can happen is you end up where you started off. The best is you receive what you negotiated," wrote one survey respondent. Don't assume that the offer is all they have in hand, pointed out another: "If you have an offer in hand, there's always some meat left on the bone."

Know what you want is another common suggestion. "Ask for more than you are up to accept," wrote one survey respondent, but many others wrote-in, "Be flexible." Explained one person, "Know where you are willing to accept something less than what you wanted and where you cannot. It's rare that you get everything you are negotiating, so set your priorities. Both the employer and you will feel good once the process has ended."

"Be realistic, prepared and fair," suggested someone else. "Make sure you can justify your needs based on your experience, skills and most importantly—what you can bring to the table for their company."

But you can aim high, particularly if you don't have to make a move. "If the person is currently employed and generally OK in their role but merely looking for a better opportunity, I'd suggest they aim high and negotiate heavily. Think of their dream offer and ask for it," suggested a respondent.

There's another factor: the job negotiation teaches you what to expect from the company. Wrote one person, "If you're reasonable and present your case well and they don't meet your needs, care, or understand, it's an indicator of what's to come." It demonstrates your abilities, too, as one person pointed out: "Negotiate as you would in the job itself. It is another method of showing your capabilities."

Identify your requirements. It's important to know your own "must have" items and your "nice to have" items, and to be ready to walk away if the "must have" items aren't met.

Put all your requirements up front, and "Ask for it all the first time," wrote one respondent. "Applicants who ask for one thing, and you give it to them, and then they say, 'Oh, and could you also...?' are perceived negatively," he or she added.

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