How to Negotiate a Job Offer and Your First Days at Work - Career Guide Series - Part Nine

As a concluding part of our comprehensive career guide series, today we shall be discussing how to negotiate a job offer. In the previous part of the series we discussed how to be successful in a job interview, which was a continuation of part seven on the same topic. Today we would be exploring the various strategies and success tips you need to know in being successful in negotiating a job offer.

How to Negotiate a Job Offer

Now we assume that with the help of this career guide, you have performed excellently in you interview and the employer wants to know how mush they can pay you. Below are some useful tips in negotiating a job offer.

1. Give Initial Response to Offer
Respond gratefully even if the offer is below expectations. Ask to have some time to think about it, and agree on a response date.

2. Research
  • Find out the average pay for such position in the industry
  • Find salary and bonus data for your major and industry
  • Consider negotiating non-salary items as well.
3. Psychological Preparation
  • Why do you want to negotiate?
  • Do you know what you want to achieve?
  • How will you respond to counteroffers?
  • What are your alternatives?
  • What are you willing to accept?
4. Develop a Strategy
  • Consider all factors, including your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate.
  • How serious are you about this position over another? Do you have other offers with pending deadlines?
  • Time your negotiations accordingly; don’t wait until the last minute.
5. Practice
  • Ask a friend or someone to represent the employer on your behalf
  • Ask them to negotiate at the extremes of possible employer response so you are ready for both possibilities
  • Ask them to behave in an accommodating manner and then in a less congenial manner, so you are fully prepared
Contact the Organization
  • Identify who is best to negotiate with—Human Resources? Your interviewer? Call to present your items to be negotiated—be enthusiastic and reassure them of your interest in the position.
  • Keep it positive and respectful; negotiating should be a win-win
  • If they meet your requests, tell them thank you and as soon as you get the information in writing, you will be ready to accept it
Get Terms in Writing and Decide
  • Always make sure you have an offer in writing prior to accepting to confirm all parties are on the same page
  • Review your needs and goals to determine if the negotiated offer is the right fit
  • Provide your response as soon as possible, especially if you decide to decline the offer

How to Decline a Job Offer

If the negotiation did not go in your favor and you have concluded not to accept the offer, you can always reject or decline the job offer but at the same time maintaining your decorum. The following tips will be helpful:
  1. Always be polite regardless of your response to an offer.
  2. Start off with a positive statement thanking the organization for their offer.
  3. Let them know that you will unfortunately have to decline.
  4. Provide them with an appropriate reason for the decline (you have another offer you are going to pursue, the location, the benefits, etc.).
  5. Thank them again and wish them well.

Your First Day at Work

Now we assume the offer was good and you have accepted the job offer. Its now time to prepare for your first day at work. For most new workers especially new graduates the first day at work is one of their most glorious days, yet for some it could be the most frightening day.

However, your first days in a new job need to be a memorable one. The following tips would aid you on your first day at work.

Before we continue, note that the person to whom you report is probably the person who will have most influence on your next steps in the employment. They will be recommending you for promotion, or not, or they will be writing a reference for you for your next steps into a new organisation.
  1. Try to understand what is important to them. A good way to do this is to ask them. Then you can look for ways to assist.
  2. Try to bring solutions rather than problems. Your boss will already have plenty of problems and probably enough people to bring more. You will get noticed if you seem to be looking for or providing solutions.
  3. The biggest mistake you can make is to never make a mistake. The new graduate in a new job can view a mistake as a disaster – but the person who never made a mistake, never made anything. The worst mistake you can make is to be so risk-averse that there is no possibility that you will ever make a mistake. View mistakes as pitfalls form which you can learn. Consequently, distill all the learning you can from each mistake.
  4. Take responsibility for outcomes. Don't hide from responsibility behind the fact that you are the newest or youngest employee where you work. The sooner you learn to take personal responsibility, the quicker you will become a respected and mature professional.
  5. Be careful in your written communications, particularly the less formal ones, such as memos and emails. These provide lasting evidence of your maturity and your professionalism.
  6. Find yourself a mentor. If this is a job in which you intend to stay long enough to seek advancement, then seek a mentor in your organisation or industry. Seek advice from someone who has succeeded, so they can help you to succeed. Check whether your organisation has a mentoring scheme. Some professional bodies offer mentoring schemes so it is well worth checking that out too. Otherwise, use informal ways to find a mentor. People are more likely to be willing to act as a mentor than you think, because most people like having someone to look up to them. It is flattering to be asked to be a mentor; it is pleasant having someone listen attentively to your advice, and it is also pleasant to be able to share lessons from your own experience.
  7. Recognise the importance of interpersonal relations. Most students study, complete assignments and are assessed on the basis of individual work during school, college and university. Most work within employing organisations is done in a group or departmental setting. Indeed, the essence of organisation is to combine the contributions of individuals to realise joint outcomes. Hence, learning to get on with work colleagues is essential.
  8. Recognise the importance of teamwork. An employing organisation is a way of combining the work of groups and of individuals. Your contribution to the organisation will be assessed by your contribution to your group at work. A fruitful attitude to team working is to see the problems of other people in your group, as your problems.
  9. Develop your network. Your current employing organisation is unlikely to be the last organisation that employs you. Most jobs are obtained by personal contacts and networks. Places you can network include alumnus groups, on-line groups, professional bodies,and trade associations.
  10. Network within your own organisation. Access to interesting work as well as promotions depends on who you know as well as what you know. Make contacts within your current organisation.
  11. Build goodwill. People will be much happier to help you if they see you as someone who will help them. If you help other people in your organisation, you will develop a network of people who are likely to think of how they can help you when the opportunity arises.
  12. Staying in touch. Networking is not just about making contacts; it is also about building relationships with these contacts. Develop a system for keeping in touch with your contacts.
  13. Avoid burning your bridges with anyone. It is a small world, so keep your enemies to the minimum.
  14. Develop yourself. In the best of all possible worlds, your employing organisation will recognise your worth and realise the importance of developing your potential. If not, you need to do the job yourself. A good place to start is to work out a development plan for yourself, even if it is very provisional and subject to amendment in the light of emerging circumstances.
  15. It is never too soon to begin thinking about where your present job will lead you. What are the options for your next move? Which options look most promising?
  16. Look for as many learning opportunities as possible. What training or development is needed to arrive at where you want to go next? Are there courses on offer which could build your CV in the direction you want to go? How can you make the most of informal learning, particularly about the particular sector in which you are now working?
  17. Look for a niche to make your own. If you have an area of specialisation within an organisation or an industry this can be a valuable source of comparative advantage. It is even better if you can find an area of specialisation that will be in more demand in the future. 
In this part of the career guide series we have equipped you with the necessary knowledge and tips for negotiating a job offer, how to decline or accept a job offer, and tips for successful first days at work.

As a recap, in this Career Guide Series so far we have discussed the following topics:
Part 1. How to Make Informed Career Decisions
Part 2. How to Search For a Job
Part 3. How to Apply For a Job
Part 4. Networking
Part 8. How to Be Successful in a Job Interview Continued
Part 9. How to Negotiate a Job Offer and Your First Day at Work

What is your thought? Feel free to make your contributions, observations or ask questions on this topics or any part of the career guide series using the comment form below and we will be more than happy to add to our data base of knowledge because nobody knows it all. 

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