Negotiation: Offer and Acceptance

If you are lucky enough to get an offer from a prospective employer, make sure you don’t blow your chances for the job by being too aggressive at negotiating your salary or benefit package. You should have already set your expectations as to salary based on an honest appraisal of your worth in the local job market . What you made in another part of the country may be irrelevant if it is out of line with local salaries. The size of the company and the industry it competes in will frequently drive the current salary ranges. Local and company custom as to benefits and other perks will drive those issues

Most companies want to make a fair and reasonable offer. They want you to start out happy so you have a chance to get into the job without being distracted from the beginning. They also don’t want to make their current employees unhappy if a new employee is able to negotiate a sweet deal for himself that is out of line with other salaries or benefits the company offers.

An offer is an indication that a company has decided that you are the person they want for the position but it does not necessarily mean that they are in love with you to the exclusion of all other candidates. You may be the best choice out of several excellent candidates and the employer can easily withdraw the offer if you start looking like a shylock arguing over every phrase in the offer letter.

On the other hand, if you have questions about the offer, be sure to get them clarified. Once the offer letter is signed, you have lost your negotiating strength and will not be in much of a position to demand anything different for some time after you start your employment. Keep the lines of communication open.

Your response to the offer should be prompt and complete. Address all areas in the offer letter that you have questions about or wish to negotiate at the same time. Don’t nickel and dime the employer. They may be willing to make a concession on one point but will get tired of the game very quickly if you come back with a new demand every time they resolve an issue.

If you cannot immediately accept an offer, say because you are expecting another offer from another employer, be honest and tell them. Ask for an extension if you need one. If the prospective employer wants you bad enough, they may sweeten the offer before the other company has a chance to “steal” you from them. In any case, it is not a good practice to keep the employer waiting for your decision. Their offer can be withdrawn at any time if you manage to upset them enough.