It feels wonderful to get a job offer. This is what you were striving for when you started your job search. But do not rush to say “yes”.
When you receive a job offer, the roles are suddenly reversed. Now you have become the buyer. The employer is now trying to sell you on the career opportunity, salary, and benefits. They definitely want you, and in most cases, would like you to join as soon as possible. You have to decide whether you want them, and if so, what changes are needed in the job offer before you make a commitment.
Is this the right job?
Here are some questions you should try to answer to determine if this is the right job.
∞ Are you sure this job is a good match with your skills?
∞ Will this job put you on the career path you want?
∞ Do you feel you will have a good working relationship with your boss?
∞ What is this company’s reputation in the industry?
∞ Do you have a clear understanding of the job description?
∞ Are you convinced that you will succeed in this job?
∞ How does your family feel about this job?
∞ Will you enjoy working with the people you met during the interview process?
When you receive a job offer, you have to make a decision that will have a long-range impact on your career path. Fortunately, most companies give you a few days to make your decision. You have probably determined, before a job offer is presented to you, that the company is a good place to work and you are satisfied with the position and advancement opportunities. If you have any concerns about the company or the position, this is the time to take another look at what you may be getting into. No amount of salary or benefits will make up for a bad career choice. Assuming you are satisfied with the company and the position, take a close look at the financial aspects.
Job offers are subject to negotiation. You can negotiate the job responsibilities, base salary, bonuses, relocation package, benefits, stock compensation, severance terms and anything else included in the job offer. This is an opportunity for you to define what you want and what you can get, and then negotiate an employment package acceptable to you.
Timing is a critical factor in negotiating. The ideal time to negotiate is when you have received a verbal offer from the employer, or through an executive search firm. Prepare a logical explanation for every change you want to request. Remember, negotiating is a two-way process, where both you and the employer try to reach an agreement that will be beneficial to both sides.
Preparation is the key to good negotiations
You have to research, consider alternatives, plan and effectively communicate with the employer. You have to know how far you can go, and when to pull back. When the job being offered to you is hard to fill, the employer will be more accommodating. If other candidates are available to fill the position, the employer may be less inclined to negotiate the terms of the job offer. Smaller companies are more willing to negotiate as compared to larger organizations with standard policies and procedures.
There is a big difference in salaries for the same jobs in different parts of the country. You should look up cost of living data when researching salaries.
Here are some websites for your research.
www.jobstar.org
This is a wonderful resource for help on salary information. It helps you connect to over 300 free online salary surveys. The surveys come from several kinds of sources including: General periodicals; local newspapers; Trade and professional journals; Trade and professional associations; and Recruiters or employment agencies. This website also offers helpful links to other websites for advice on salary negotiation strategies.
www.salary.com
This is a leading provider of on-demand human resources software to help businesses and individuals manage pay and performance, and achieve greater results in the workplace. The website includes quick links to compensation-related information: Salary Wizard; Benefits Calculator; Executive Pay Wizard; Cost of Living Calculator; Premium Salary Report; Salary Wizard Canada; Performance Self-Test; and Salary Negotiation Advice.
www.glassdoor.com
This site can be a valuable resource for determining whether you want to accept a position and how to negotiate the job offer. This is a leading site where current employees and former employees can anonymously review companies and their management and leave salary information.
www.salaryexpert.com
This website was launched in 2000 to provide reports on salaries and cost of living. Tools available on this website help people make informed decisions when planning careers and searching for jobs. Following career tools are available: Search Jobs by Salary; Cost of Living Calculator; Education Planning Center; Job Search; Career Salary Potential Report; and Student Cost of Living Report.
www.payscale.com
This site is a market leader in global online compensation data. It has one of the largest databases of online employee salary data in the world. This website offers salary reports based on your job title, location, education, skills and experience.
www.bls.gov/oco
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is revised every two years. It is a nationally recognized source of career information for hundreds of different types of jobs. For specific occupations, it tells you: the training and education needed; earnings; expected job prospects; what workers do on the job; and working conditions. In addition, it gives you job search tips, and links to job market in each state. Occupational Outlook Handbook is available online, and you can use the Search box to find out about a specific occupation or topic. Also you can go to the A-Z Index for a listing of all occupations in alphabetical order.
JOB OFFER GUIDELINES
The following guidelines should help you in job offer negotiations.
∞ Do not immediately accept what you are offered: Always ask for some time to consider an offer. Most employers are willing to give you up a few days to consider and respond to a job offer. It is a mistake to jump at an offer, and accept it right away. Talk to your family members and some professionals to determine whether it is a fair offer before you accept it. Accepting something less than what you are worth will not only give you less income now, but also set you back in terms of future income as raises are a percentage of what you are earning. Be wary of companies that won’t give you at least a couple of days to make a decision.
∞ Do not reject the offer quickly: Some candidates make the mistake of rejecting an offer too quickly because the salary offered is below their expectations. Always look at the total package rather than just the salary component. Some companies offer larger bonuses, stock options, and benefits. You may still find that the total package does not meet your expectations, but do take the time to review it carefully and see if you can negotiate some aspects of it to make it acceptable.
∞ Do not tell the employer what you will accept: It is a mistake for a candidate to bring up the subject of salary during job interviews. You should leave it to the employer to initiate this discussion. Employers may ask for your salary history, and you should give accurate information. They may also ask for your salary expectation, and you should give that in a broad range pointing out that it would depend upon the total package such as bonus and benefits.
∞ Do not tell the employer what you need for living expenses: You will get what you are worth in the eyes of the employer, and nothing more. You have to focus on the value you bring to the employer. Never tell an employer the amount of money you need for living expenses. That has no relevance to the employer.
∞ Know your market value: Many candidates start thinking about their market value only after getting a job offer. You should do that before you interview for jobs. There are many resources available on the Internet such as www.salary.com and www.salaryexpert.com. Also, you should talk to some professionals in the employment industry. They can usually tell the salary range you can expect based on your education and experience level.
∞ Focus on one or two changes in the offer: While employers may be willing to make one or two changes in the offer, most of them will not negotiate the entire package. You should focus on one or two elements that are most critical to you. If the salary is too low, ask for a change. If the employer will not change the salary, try to get more in terms of bonus, stock options or benefits.
∞ Never burn your bridges behind you: Negotiating a job offer is the beginning of the working relationship with an employer, and it is essential to conduct the negotiation in a professional and respectful manner even if you and the employer do not see eye to eye. If you decide to decline an offer, do so in a professional way so that there may be a future opportunity for you to connect with this employer.
∞ Always get the job offer in writing: Any good employer would be willing to state the offer in writing. If an employer is not willing to do so, re-consider whether you want to work at that company. Whatever special arrangements you are able to negotiate should be documented in writing. If you are able to get a special bonus arrangement, additional vacation time, earlier salary review, get it all in writing. It is possible that the person who negotiated special arrangements with you could move on to another assignment. You want to make sure that you are able to get whatever was agreed. Sometimes you may just have to spell out the special arrangements in a letter to the hiring manager, get the manager to acknowledge it and put it in your personnel file.
∞ Evaluate the benefits package: Employers offer a wide variety of benefits to attract and retain employees. You should consider the benefits package before accepting or declining a job offer. The benefits offered by employers may include medical insurance, dental insurance, eye care insurance, life insurance, accidental death insurance, disability insurance, business travel insurance, group legal plans, vacation, holidays, sick/personal days, retirement plans, profit sharing, stock options, tuition reimbursement, membership in health clubs, on-site child care facilities, parking reimbursement, transportation to and from work, company car, and mobile phone.
∞ Understand the entire offer: Make sure you understand all aspects of the job offer, including salary, bonus, stock option plan, non-competition agreement, performance review plan, paid time off policy, and benefits package. If you don’t understand any aspect of the job offer, don’t hesitate to ask the employer. Your first day on the job is not the time to find out about your compensation package and the company policies.
∞ Review all employment documents: Ask for copies of all documents you will be required to sign upon accepting the position. This will often include an employment letter, a non-disclosure agreement, and may include a non-compete agreement. Review these documents carefully and seek the assistance of an attorney if there are terms of employment you do not understand. These agreements will not only govern during your employment, but may define certain obligations for a period of time after you terminate employment.
Money is not the most important thing in a new job. The financial package should be reviewed in terms of other considerations such as job responsibilities and growth opportunities.

Narinder Mehta (@Narinderm) was President of an executive search firm for ten years. He is the author of three books on job search and career development. His recent book Ace Your Job Search in Five Steps (June 2016) reveals a step-by-step pathway for finding a dream job. He welcomes all requests to connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/NarinderMehta.

Author's Bio: 

Narinder Mehta was President of an executive search firm for ten years. Prior to that, he worked in the financial services industry. He served as a Senior Vice President of several companies including Shearson/American Express, Capital Credit Corporation, and Outsourcing Solutions Inc. He was National Sales Director of the American Express Gold Card program and also served as Vice President of Sales for the United States for the American Express Corporate Card. He had the honor of serving as a National Vice President of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for two terms. He is the author of two previous books on job search and career development. He has spoken on goals accomplishment and personal development to audiences in many countries. He received his Master of Arts degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Minnesota. He lives in Dover, Massachusetts, with his wife, Sampath Mehta.
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