Yes someone wants you!  Open the champagne.  However, the excitement of being offered a new job can quickly fade when you receive the offer and it doesn’t meet your expectations.  Perhaps you start to kick yourself for not talking about this earlier in the process, maybe you start to question if you're being realistic, or even wonder if this is right for you.

If you are not used to negotiating an offer it can feel awkward, who are you to think you are worth more?  But if the job feels like a great fit for you but the money is a problem then don’t you deserve to ask the question…’ is there anything more you can do?’

When is it ok to push back and ask for more?  And if so how do you do it to maximise your chance of a better offer while leaving the original offer on the table if nothing else can be done?

Firstly, yes it is acceptable to negotiate on an offer, speaking from over 20 years of experience in the HR profession I saw this become a more frequent scenario and a pandemic does not change this!  And you can do it in such a way then you can still say yes to the original offer if they have no ability to revise it.  

According to the Office for National Statistics between April 2018 and April 2019, the average increase a person received when changing jobs was 8%.  During the same period, the average increase a person received when they stayed with an organisation was 1.6%.  And with an average cost of living increases being forecast for this year between 2 to 2.5%, (Cornerstone 2021) now is when you have the most power and waiting for the annual review that might not happen is not a good strategy.   

The key is how you approach it and being able to support your proposal with a clear rationale and supporting evidence.  Taking the emotion out of it and being considered and factual.

What is driving your request, how the offer compares with your current situation, or do you feel the package doesn’t reflect the role or the market?

How does the offer compare with your current package?

I was working with a client recently who received an offer, but the reality was there was a drop in his salary.  Although, this was the same amount the role on offer was for a 40 hour week, compared with a current 35 hour week.    The bonus opportunity was slightly better, but the loss of family cover for medical care and the reduction in employer pension contributions meant this would have been overall a reduction for him.  Yes, this was a similar role so my client was realistic in that he couldn’t expect a significant increase. 

In his position, the key was to show clearly how the offer compared with his current package – the whole package including showing how his hourly rate had actually reduced.  Pulling together a line by line comparison meant he was able to clearly articulate the issue and provide factual information.

Secondly, it was about being clear about what he needed to change to make this acceptable while being realistic about which areas of the package the company could alter.

Benefits such as pension contributions, holidays, and medical care are pretty standard and unlikely to be something they have the ability to change for individuals.  However, the areas where they do are the salary and to some degree bonus targets.  Another option when the salary structure or bonus structure is very rigid is a 'sign-on' or 'welcome bonus'.  This is a one-off payment that you receive at some point within the first year, sometimes used to compensate for bonuses individuals miss out on because of the timing of their departure but can also be a way of temporary offering a sweetener when nothing can be done on standard parts of the package.

How does the offer compare with the market?

Are your expectations realistic?  Take time to look at similar roles to understand what is being commanded in the marketplace to give you a sense check.  Be careful about selecting comparable jobs based on job titles alone.  Rather look at the job descriptions and for similarities in terms of experience and qualifications, budgets and people management responsibilities, similar industries and locations.  Online salary checkers can assist you with this.  As a general rule if you are still relatively inexperienced in this area then below to average is typical and if you are an experienced high performer above market average is realistic.

From an organisation’s perspective when they are considering what offer to make they will look at your current package, how this compares with existing team members and what they have within their budget.  Unfortunately the latter two you do not have access to, so all you can do is be clear about your expectations and why you think you are worthy of it.  But if they are not able to meet your request they may agree that you warrant more, but they can’t afford you.

If you receive an offer and are disappointed by the package, share with them that you are disappointed.  “Really excited to receive your offer, however I was disappointed about the package on offer and wanted to see if you have any flexibility on this.  Let me share more about my reason for this.”

  • Be clear about your reason for asking for more money. (i.e. how does it compare with your current situation including any known increase due or bonus payments. And/or how it compares with the market)
  • Be ready to say what you want, and be realistic, you want your request to be treated seriously.
  • Back your request up with evidence. 

If you feel shortchanged then speak up  It’s the way in which you do it and what you ask for that will determine if you are successful.

And if they aren’t able to, at least you know you tried.  Then you have to consider are you willing to accept the original offer.  The whole process in which they have handled your request may give you some valuable insight into what it would be like to work there.

If you need support negotiating your offer then perhaps a power hour session would work for you.  Get in touch to find out more.

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