Increasingly, employers are posting salary ranges and hybrid work policies, so there are fewer unknowns at offer time. Ideally, offer negotiation should continue a conversation started earlier in the hiring process. Approach it as an opportunity to pin down the details and make sure you are prepared to consider every option. Your best shot at finalizing the terms you want only comes once.
Think About What’s Most Important to You
In Job Searching 101: Where to Start and The Busy Person’s Guide to Smart Research, we outlined how to create a decision framework to select jobs you want to apply for and organize your research. Use that same framework to build your strategy for negotiating details. Decide what you want, what you will accept, and what you are willing to let go of before you start the conversation.
“I encourage candidates to think about the long term when deciding what they will and won’t accept in a job offer. How will this role grow your career? It’s important to think past what you are getting right now.”Staffing Advisors Vice President of Client Engagement Aileen Hedden
Things you may be able to negotiate include:
- Compensation (base salary, sign-on bonus, performance-based bonuses, profit sharing)
- Paid vacation time, unpaid vacation time, increased parental leave
- Schedule flexibility
- Stipend for home office supplies and internet access for hybrid/remote roles
- Professional development support or tuition reimbursement
- Relocation reimbursement
- Commuter and transportation benefits for hybrid/on-site roles
- Wellness benefits
Think About What is Reasonable
Negotiation isn’t the time for wild curveballs. Be as transparent and respectful as possible.
Most likely, whoever you speak with will negotiate with the decision maker(s) on your behalf. Prepare some reasons for your counters so they can communicate that effectively. Make sure your asks are reasonable and consistent with what you have discussed in interviews so far.
A few ideas for how to gauge this . . .
Higher Base Salary
- Based on your qualifications and what the employer is looking for, think about where you logically sit within the salary range you (hopefully!) discussed in the interview process. If your skills and experience are at the top level of their requirements, you can make the case that your salary should be at or around the top of their range.
- If the offer is far from what you expected, try to get a sense of the market value for positions with similar responsibilities. Nonprofits post executive salaries in their publicly available 990 filings. Glassdoor can be helpful but be aware that the salaries are self-reported and unverified and don’t account for factors like location, company size, etc. Payscale and Indeed Salaries can provide useful data but have their own limitations. You’ll need to gather and compare data from several sources to get a reasonably accurate picture.
More Vacation Time
- Keep in mind that paid time off often accrues with seniority. You may have had six weeks at your previous job, but depending on your career level and the organization, that may not be a reasonable amount starting in a new position. Research their policies (hint: read the full statement of benefits).
- If a hiring manager cannot offer you extra weeks of paid vacation because it is against their universal policy, suggest ways to work within their limits. That could mean adjusting salary for additional unpaid vacation time. Be creative and show that you are willing to compromise.
Schedule and Location Flexibility
- If the job was advertised as a hybrid role and you haven’t discussed the possibility of fully remote work, you should expect to go into the office regularly. It’s unreasonable to ask for a fully remote schedule at this stage. If going into the office even once a week is a dealbreaker, that’s a conversation you should have much earlier in the process.
- You may be able to negotiate for more or fewer days on-site, certain days of the week on-site, or flexible working hours. Be honest about what you need, why you need it, and how the flexibility will add to your value as a team member.
“It’s worth taking the time to really think through the offer and prioritize. About 48-72 hours is the norm. And don’t agree to anything until you have read through the benefits closely to see the total compensation picture. There can be less obvious costs; you don’t want any surprises after you have already negotiated.”Staffing Advisors Project Director Lilly Khan
Aim for One Conversation With a Positive Tone
Negotiating a long list of items isn’t off-putting to an employer, but coming back multiple times can be. Prepare to negotiate for every item on your list in a single meeting. More than that is a red flag for employers and can damage the goodwill they want to extend to you.
There is an art to asking for what you deserve while respecting the interests of the employer. Just as you have expectations and priorities, the hiring manager has limitations. Remember, you’re entering a long-term relationship with the employer, and your needs will evolve over time. Your negotiation style should set a positive tone for future interactions.
“Part of what good negotiators think about is how it feels to the other person—are you asking them to create a precedent that would affect every other employee? You want to come across as acting in good faith and you need to respect their limitations; it’s a give and take.”Staffing Advisors President Bob Corlett
Your new job offer may not be the last you have to evaluate—what if your current employer counters after you give notice? Our team shares practical advice here: How to Think Critically About a Counteroffer.
And if you find yourself back out there, read our Guide to Senior Executive Job Search for tips on developing your career narrative, writing a resume that gets attention, and interview strategies that work.