Negotiating Your Job Offer

Interview Comments

A few years ago, a colleague of mine recommended me to watch this video on Negotiating your Job Offer by Deepak Malhotra at Harvard Business School. Even though I wasn’t looking for a job, I watched it and I found a lot of interesting points — especially since I was new to negotiation.

Deepak Malhotra's talk on Negotiation

Over the last couple of months, I’ve recommended this video to a few of my friends regarding good resources on Job Offer Negotiations and I’ve heard positive feed-backs as well.

Below are my learning from this —

The Basics

  1. Don’t negotiate just to negotiate — If there’s one thing that I need you to take away from this post, this would be it — you don’t want to fight, fight and fight just to get a little bit more. Although you might get a smiley face at the end, it is usually relatively smaller (and probably short lived) compared to bigger things in life. If you seriously feel you deserve more, then by all means negotiate your job offer but refrain from doing it otherwise.

  2. Tell the truth — Do not say whatever needs to be said to get the job done — sooner or later you’re going to regret it. Resist the temptation to tell even a small lie — even if it means losing your negotiation.

The ‘IF’

Conditions that you need to check whether you’re in a position to negotiate

  1. They need to like you — There should be something in your profile that should impress them or your interview should have gone really well. Also, you need to negotiate such that they like you even more after the negotiation —negotiate openly, honestly, with empathy and give & take.

  2. They have to believe that you deserve it — Always say why you deserve the higher compensation and justify your request. Do not stop with ‘I need more money’ but always say ‘I need it because …’.

  3. They need to believe that they can get you — No one wants to be a stalking horse for the other job that you actually want. They shouldn’t be thinking that you’re going to negotiate just so that at the end you’re going to say ‘Thanks but no thanks’. Also, you cannot be asking for way more than what they can offer — they need to be able to act on it internally and justify your request.

The ‘What’

Describes what should you be negotiating for

  1. Be Flexible on which currency they pay you in — Most people tend to get too focused on the salary — there are various other currency terms in which you could get paid apart from salary — bonus, relocation, stock options, location, tuition reimbursement — the more options you give them the more are the chances that you could get what you want. Remember that sometimes, the company might not be flexible on the salary as the salary ranges for New College Grads should always be within a range and they cannot give one of you alone a sweet deal.

  2. Nature of role than monetary benefits — If you have to choose between a team that you like versus some extra monetary benefits, always go for the former. Mostly, the happiness from the monetary benefits die soon and it is not going to be the one that would be motivating you to go to work on a day-to-day basis.

The ‘When’

  1. Stay at the table — Always stay in touch with the recruiter or the hiring manager — don’t just get the job offer and start shopping around for some more. You’re never going to know when they’re going to give you more information.

  2. What is not negotiable today, might be negotiable tomorrow — Whenever anyone says ‘No’, what they mean is this — ‘No as I see the world today’. Things might change 6 months or 1 year down the line and when you’re one among them, they can do a lot more things for you. For this reason, always downplay/ignore/avoid ultimatums of any kind (and it works both ways). Try to understand the current situation and respond to a ‘No’ with a ‘Can you help me understand why that is hard to do’.

The ‘How’

The most crucial part

  1. Understand the person or company on the other side of the table — Try to get as much information about the company — it’s culture, job responsibility and also the team. If you know people who work there, try to understand more about the compensation and in which currency the company is flexible about.

  2. Negotiate multiple issues or interests simultaneously — If there are multiple parts of your offer that you’d like to negotiate (hopefully not more than 4 or 5), list them simultaneously. You don’t want to say that you need another 10k$ in your salary and after you’ve gotten that ask for another 5k$ bonus — you can see why this is really annoying. Also, it is usually implied that when you ask for 10k$ more salary, it means that you’d be accepting the offer if they’re able to get you that. The other advantage of listing multiple interests simultaneously is that you can signal what is most important to you and what is less important. On a final note, make sure you do it appropriately — don’t barrage with a list of demands. Remember this — they need to like you.

  3. Prepare for the tricky questions — More often than not, there are going to be questions that you wish they didn’t ask — ‘Did the company you were interning with extend you a job offer?’ or ‘Are you interviewing with other companies or have other offers currently?’. In these cases, a simple and a confident ‘No’ would suffice and you don’t have to be defensive. Sometimes you might be asked with questions like ‘Will you accept the offer if I extend you one right now?’. In situations like these, don’t get stuck on what they’re asking you — try and figure out why they’re asking you that. It might be because they are hesitant you would accept the offer or are suspicious you would like to shop around for me. Try addressing the intent rather than the actual question.

Good luck ☺

Kaushik Rangadurai

Code. Learn. Explore

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