Making a Counteroffer: Some Tips on Negotiating

When getting a new job, whether you’re employed or not, you could end up making a counteroffer. After all, no matter how much you love your job, you probably wouldn’t do it for free!  At some point in your application process, you’ll have to talk about how much money you will make. We call those fun conversations “negotiations.”

Recently, we had a candidate who received an offer letter that appeared to be very acceptable–to us, anyway. Then this candidate began to generate requests, modifications, and negotiations that were relatively outrageous. “I’ll accept the job if I get a new camel,” he’d say. (Not really, but you get the idea.)

At the end of the day, the job was accepted, but at a lower figure than the candidate would have liked. In our opinion, the reason for this was that some mistakes were made in negotiating. Had different requests been made or a different strategy been taken, the result may been more favorable. Here are a few tips to avoid such mistakes in the awkward and fun negotiation period:

Be Honest. When making a counteroffer, be honest about your current or recent earnings from the very outset. Not everyone likes to share their current earnings, and that’s an acceptable practice (though it’s also acceptable for a company to request such info unless prohibited by a law such California’s new law, AB 168, effective January 1, 2018, which prohibits employers from asking about your salary and benefits history). However, if you choose to share your current compensation, keep those figures accurate.

Be Consistent. Many applications will ask you for your desired salary. Generally, such information is obtained to streamline negotiations if you are the candidate of choice for the job. Nothing irks a hiring manager (or a third party recruiter) more than when those figures change. “Yes, I initially asked for $80K. But now I will take no less than $100K!” True story.

Be Reasonable. Negotiating an offer is an acceptable action. However, when you are making a counteroffer, be reasonable with your requests. Do some research and have some level of justification for requesting a higher salary, or more vacation time, etc. (This is important especially if you are asking for more money than you put on your application.) For example, show the new company that their insurance will cost you more, and you’ll need a higher salary to compensate. Or do research to show that the offered compensation is below market value. In essence, you need to have a better reason than “ME WANT MONEY!” when making a counteroffer.

Be Flexible. Since it is a negotiation, be prepared for the employer to counter your counteroffer! Michael Chaffers of advises that an employer could come back with a response like, “I know that some of our competitors are offering higher salary figures. However, they are much larger than we are, and they expect you to work much longer hours for bigger clients. We offer a salary that allows you to have a reasonable work life and really have an impact on smaller companies.” If that’s the case, Chaffers recommends that you go back to the drawing board, revise your asking package, and “keep the big picture in mind. Your goal in the negotiation is to reach an agreement that satisfies your interests, not to win a battle between positions. If your counteroffer is not moving you closer to an agreement, do not hunker down and defend it to the death.”

Negotiation is good. Making a counteroffer means that someone wants to employ you! But don’t make simple mistakes that lead to a lower starting salary, bad blood, or worst of all, a voided offer.

By Ryan Mann

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