Negotiation: How to Close the Sale on Your Next Cleared Job

Posted by Nancy Gober

Once you’ve crafted your marketing materials, networked your way into some good interviews, and made a strong case that you are a candidate who can provide benefit to the hiring organization, the hard part is behind you…right? Well, not so fast.

You sold it…They bought it…You have a job offer. Now, you are faced with a decision: Do you accept the offer you’ve been given? Or, do you try to improve it and get more of what you want? In other words, do you negotiate?

Negotiation – What Is It?

Job seeking is a sales process, and negotiation is a useful technique for closing the best possible sale. Yet, the thought of negotiating a job offer can create jitters in the best of job seekers! But, as with so many things that cause anxiety, knowledge is key. Understanding what negotiation is, how to go about it, and What’s-In-It-For-You can go a long way toward calming the jitters. Here is a definition:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

NEGOTIATE > verb: to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Negotiation is NOT a part of the job search process to be shied away from…but many do. Why? Well, some shy away from fear and just accept the offer that is given to them. For others, it’s simply a case of not knowing how. But know that in choosing not to negotiate, you have a lot to lose. When you don’t negotiate, the chances are good that you leave dollars and benefits lying on the table that could have been yours. Conversely, in choosing to negotiate, you have a lot to gain!

The long and short of it is that negotiation is just a conversation. It is a conversation that occurs when two (or more) parties have different wants and needs, yet enough shared commonalities, to make it reasonable to sit down and have a conversation. The goal is to arrive at a workable solution that is acceptable to both parties – in other words, a win-win solution.

A Win-Win Solution Is the Goal

A win-win solution is always the goal of a sincere and well-intentioned negotiation. The key to successful negotiation is that the more satisfied both parties are with the solution, the better off each will think they are.

No one gets everything they want (possible but unlikely), but each gets enough – sometimes more than enough – to feel they got a good deal. This leads to be a better quality, longer-lasting relationship.

Negotiation Begins the Moment You Say Hello

An important point sometimes lost is that negotiation begins with the first impression you make upon an employer. Your early communications, such as emails, resumes, and initial talks, such as at networking meetings, chance conversations, and phone screen interviews, set the stage for how you are perceived. These early perceptions set in the interviewing team’s minds about your levels of competence, authority, and compensation influence your future offer. In other words, you are already negotiating.

So, manage that first impression you make on prospective employers. As you choose the information you decide to reveal about yourself, know that you are setting the stage for the makeup of your potential offer. Be cautious about revealing too much too soon.

If You Don’t Negotiate…You Lose More Than You Think

What’s at stake if you choose not to negotiate? More than you might think. Your decision can affect your earning power for years to come!

When you choose not to negotiate, you run the risk of losing in three ways:

  1.  Short-term loss – Prospective employees who choose not to negotiate their job offer run the risk of losing dollars in the short term. They might have gotten a slightly or even significantly higher starting salary, as well as more benefits and perks had they negotiated their job offer.
  2. Long-term loss – But they also lose in the long term since a company’s yearly salary increases are generally percentages based on their past year’s salary.
  3. Longer-term loss – And these same employees lose in the longer term too, because when they find a new job with a new employer, the starting salary is generally based on one’s immediate past salary…which is lower that it could have been had the employee negotiated a higher starting salary with their previous firm.

What’s Negotiable? Practically Everything

Upon receiving an offer for employment, job seekers frequently ask the question: “What can I negotiate for besides salary?” The answer: If it pertains to the job, it’s fair game for negotiation.

Here’s a list of some items that job seekers have negotiated for:

  • Salary – the obvious one
  • Bonuses
  • Commission
  • Benefits to provide greater coverage or protection for you
  • Benefits to cover your family members
  • Increased salary in lieu of company benefits
  • Work schedule
  • Work space if working off-site
  • Start date
  • Membership
  • Parking
  • Courses & Certifications
  • Stock
  • . . .

The list is just about endless. The key is to figure out what is important to you and the employer in the performance of this job, and ask for it. However, maintain your credibility. Your requests need to be reasonable and clearly related to performance of the job.

Negotiation Is Not for Me…or Is It?

Over the years, I’ve heard multiple job seekers wonder if negotiation is for them. And, over the years, I’ve had conversations with multiple clients who wondered if they could actually do it.

The decision to negotiate your offer really depends on you. Do you have the stomach for it? Some job seekers do. Some don’t. Only you can decide, and no one should decide for you. Here’s a way to decide:                                      

Scenario 1: Do Negotiate

If thinking about negotiating creates a feeling of a few “butterflies” in your stomach, know that that is normal. Every negotiator feels those butterflies. But if you have done your homework, and you know what are acceptable salary requirements and benefits for the position, you should negotiate.

Scenario 2: Don’t Negotiate

If thinking about negotiating paralyzes you, creating feelings of nausea, excessive nervousness, and verbal constraints/impairment, negotiation is not for you, at least not at this time. In this case, accept the salary as offered, and just enjoy knowing that you have won a new job in a tough employment competition. That’s an achievement in itself!

Keys to a Successful Negotiation

The key to successful negotiation of a job offer is to figure out what is important to both you and the employer in your performance of this job, and then, ask for it – asking for it in a respectful, logical, and non-demanding manner. The key lies in figuring out what is a win-win outcome for both parties…the job seeker and the employer. Increase the probability of success by taking the following actions:

  • Do your homework. Know what your set of experiences, talents, expertise, and capabilities is worth in the employment market and what might be reasonable benefits for the level/type of position.
  • Decide what benefits to negotiate for. Pick two or three things that are most important to you as you envision performing the job, and build your business case for those items. Show how each will benefit the employer, and also enable you to be successful in the position. The key lies in figuring out what is a win-win outcome for both of you.
  • Maintain your credibility. Make requests that are reasonable and clearly related to the job. Present logical rationale for how the benefit you are requesting will add to your job performance and/or your ability to do the job and excel in it.
  • Watch your manners…as your Mother would say. Make your requests in a respectful, logical, and non-demanding manner. No grandstanding. No ultimatums. If you do decide to walk away, it should be done AFTER you both have discussed the items and it becomes clear that both parties can’t come to agreement.
  • Be realistic about the fact that it is likely that you won’t get everything you ask for.
  • Predetermine how you will respond, and
  • Predetermine what will be your fallback position.
  • Leave the door open. If there is a benefit that you want and do not get, ask if you might address it again at a future time, and identify what that time might be. Put it on your calendar and bring it up again at the predetermined time.
  • Know your “deal breaker(s).” Is there an item that if you do not get it, you will have to walk away? Is there an item(s) that if you don’t get it, from your experience, you know you can’t achieve success? It’s important to know what your line in the sand is. Negotiate an alternative if possible, but if not possible, be gracious in your departure from this job offer and prospective employer.
  • BE GRACIOUS! Be gracious throughout the entire process – during the interview and negotiation! It shows you in the best light as a consummate professional, and who knows when your paths will cross again!

Summing Up Negotiation

Asking for what you want is the name of the negotiation game. While the answer may still be “no,” you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Negotiation doesn’t mean you will get everything you want. But it is a given that if you don’t ask for it, you definitely won’t get it. They key to successful negotiation is to give careful consideration to what it will take for you to be a happy and productive worker in the organization for which you are interviewing. Then talk about it in a reasonable conversation with the firm’s representative.

Negotiation is NOT for everyone. Remember it’s your choice. But here’s a final encouragement to try your hand at negotiating your next job offer: Successful negotiation will add to your success on the job!

Job seeking is an art, not a science. The most successful job seekers I’ve had the pleasure of working with understanding this concept. Armed with this knowledge, they seek to put as much planning, organization, and pro-activity into their searches in order to achieve their goal. They follow a process that includes Four Steps to Their Next Job Opportunity:

Step 1: Planning and Strategy

Step 2: Marketing Your Skills

Step 3: Networking and Interviewing

Step 4: Negotiation

Following a method keeps them on track and moving toward their goal, a job that they wake up in the morning wanting to go to and enjoy doing day-after-day! And that’s a job seeker’s ultimate goal achieved! Best of luck in your job search.


  • Nancy Gober

    Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment, and the author of “Jobs Are Not Found Sitting at the Computer.” You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 12, 2023 6:51 pm

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