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Eight tips for negotiating a job offer

Every job offer has its own unique circumstances.

Below are strategies to consider when it's time to negotiate.

  • Don't negotiate just to negotiate. There are people who love to negotiate, just for the sake of negotiating. Don't be that person. If there's an issue you care about, then negotiate. But don't waste time on trivial matters.
  • Be ready for tough questions. It's likely they will ask you questions that could catch you off guard. "Are we your top choice?" "If we make you an offer tomorrow, will you accept?" "How many other offers do you have?" Be ready to answer those questions honestly yet in a manner that doesn't squander your bargaining power.
  • Let them know they can get you. Send clear signals that you want to work for them, if the terms are satisfactory. Let them know that negotiating is worth their time and effort.
  • Understand their limitations. The other side may or may not be able to budge on specific issues. For example, if five other people are being offered similar jobs, the employer might not have leeway to negotiate salary. But there might be room for negotiating other things, like vacation time.
  • Help them understand what you want. If you think you're worth a higher salary than they're offering, be ready to give concrete reasons why.
  • Know who's on the other side. If you're working with someone from HR, for example, he or she might not have much authority to negotiate. If you're working with the company's owner, however, there could be much more latitude.
  • Consider the entire offer. Many people focus solely on salary. Don't make that mistake. There a lot of factors that ultimately will determine your happiness in the job, such as job responsibilities, time off and continuing education opportunities.
  • Be patient. The offer probably is the top priority in your life now. But the person you're dealing with might have a dozen items on the "to do" list before responding to your questions or concerns. You've gotten this far, which means they want you. Don't let impatience torpedo the opportunity.

Finally, consider hiring a lawyer. Depending on the level of the job and the complexity of the offer, it might be very wise to hire an experienced attorney to advise you or negotiate on your behalf.

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