15 Tips for Negotiating a Job Offer
Discussing all the aspects of a job early on will help people on both sides of the table reach a common understanding of what the role will entail. Rather than viewing negotiations as a confrontational affair, applicants and interviewers should look at it as an opportunity to plan the new role together.
A greater common understanding is the best result of negotiating in great detail. There are a huge number of things that have to be touched upon even if they aren’t negotiable. Creating a job offer is the right time to outline all these factors and candidates should be well-prepared to talk through benefits, salary, duties, and other critical aspects of the new job.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about building a creative job offer from both sides of the table so you can start every new job on the right foot.
What is Included in a Job Offer?
Hiring design talent is not always as simple as a handshake. Many important factors have to be outlined to prevent confusion or dissatisfaction down the road. Some of the things both applicants and the company might want to consider when creating a job offer include:
- Hours (Full-time, part-time, contract)
- Time off, including PTO, sick days, and long-term leave
- Company hierarchy
- Promotion opportunities
- Remote work or WFH
- Authority (decision-making responsibility)
- Recurring and signing bonuses
- Technology and ownership
- Additional benefits (company car, gas card, stocks, etc.)
- Relocation costs, if applicable
- Severance procedure
- Start date
These specific things might not be necessary for every single job. Smaller jobs that aren’t viewed as long-term likely won’t have as many benefits to negotiate but you might still want to talk about the promotion process and training if the applicant is interested in turning the role into a long-term opportunity.
Creating a Job Offer: The Company’s Role
Businesses trying to bring in top talent should take the time to fully build the role before they start interviewing for it. In cases where it’s a completely new position or the company isn’t quite sure how the role will fit into the existing structure, using a creative staffing agency to bring in temporary talent can help flesh out the role.
One of the most important job offer tips for those on the company side is to decide what is and isn’t negotiable. Many times, budget constraints limit salary possibilities, but you might be able to offset that with other benefits like more work-from-home hours.
The last thing you want is to go through all your applicants and have the ideal choice withdraw from consideration because you can’t agree on a priority factor. While you can’t hope to meet every applicant’s highest hopes, it will help if you give a clear outline of what’s possible and give offsets to make up for places where the job offer comes up a bit short.
Priority Factors for Prospective Employees
So, what are the most important things people look for in a job offer? Salary is naturally going to be a significant part of the appeal, but some things can have a similar impact.
For example, as remote work skyrocketed starting in early 2020, many people found that they preferred to do their jobs outside the traditional office model. Some managers worry that productivity is impacted by remote work, but studies show that’s not the case.
In addition to flex hours, benefits can also turn a normal job offer into a gold mine for prospective employees. Larger companies who can give full health coverage to their staff are much more likely to have better retention rates and happier staff. Other benefits like sick leave, PTO, and vacation days will have similar benefits.
Understanding where employees find value in their roles will help the company retain its best staff and make the whole office atmosphere friendlier and less stressful. If you don’t already have questions to discover priority factors early in your interview process, make sure to add some.
Negotiating a Creative Job Offer
There’s a certain kind of etiquette to negotiating, especially if it’s to be done on friendly terms and not as adversaries. Starting a new job with a fight is guaranteed to bring the professional relationship to an early finish.
The key to effective negotiation is to know when to start. While identifying potential differences in expectations early on is crucial, there’s no need to start hammering out all the details right away. If you’re interviewing for the position, don’t try until you have a formal, explicit job offer from the company.
If the details outlined by the company seem overly malleable, the candidate might start to take the position less seriously. Once again, this is a great reason to have the job description written out and a clear view of what is and isn’t negotiable.
Job Offer Tips for Companies and Applicants
The whole process of hiring design talent can be derailed in the final steps before a creative job offer is accepted. Use some of these job offer tips to help facilitate a friendly professional discussion that works for all parties involved.
1- Be Grounded
Arrogance during the job application process is common on both sides of the interview table. Large pools of hopeful candidates give companies more choosing power and that can go to the hiring manager’s head. Once a candidate has secured a creative job offer, they might get overconfident.
Creating a job offer and accepting one both require a realistic look at what needs to be done and the best way to make sure it happens. Rather than focusing on either side, focus on the job that needs doing and be frank about what kind of remuneration it’s going to take to have someone perform that role.
2- Know Your Worth
For applicants, each demand should come with a corresponding reason why you deserve what you’re asking for. For many interviewers, hearing personal tales explaining the need for a higher salary doesn’t go nearly as far as professional accomplishments and illustration of how you create value and why you should be rewarded for it.
The company should also have some idea of its value. Don’t think about your stock prices. Rather, honestly appraise your company culture and how happy other people are to work there. If you have a high turnover rate, you’ll likely have less room to negotiate.
Both parties should also know the value of the role. Hiring design talent, for example, requires the applicant to understand exactly how business goals can be met with design thinking. If the interviewer doesn’t share that understanding, the applicant must be able to explain it.
3- Talk It Out
Open discussion is the best policy and critical for creating a job offer that works for everyone. If a certain aspect of a creative job offer doesn’t suit you, stating why can help avoid sounding petty or shooting down the other party.
The most common hangup is the salary. There’s usually very little reason to detail why you want more money – it’s a fairly universal desire. But if the company is limited by a hiring budget then owning up to that can help offset a low salary with other benefits.
Similarly, applicants should be straightforward without being too blunt. If you want more remote hours or additional training, support those desires with clear ideas of how it will help you succeed at the company.
4- Be Personable
While the negotiations might involve a big company entering into a contract with the employee, the people at the table will still be people like everyone else. The fastest way to cut through corporate jargon and avoid misunderstandings is to talk to each other as humans first.
A higher level of understanding and frank discussion is possible from this perspective. The interviewer might personally agree that the applicant deserves what they’re requesting even if the company can’t provide it. Rather than pretending to doubt the applicant, the interviewer can simply say the demand is not feasible even though it’s reasonable and suggest a workable alternative.
5- Give the Benefit of the Doubt
When it comes to budget constraints and other limitations, there’s often no other course of action that to take people at their word. Unless it’s a disreputable company, they’re not going to lie outright about their budgets. After all, they know if they can give you what you want you’re more likely to stay with them longer, so good companies try to oblige when they can.
Some things require a little proof, especially when it comes to past experience and the logic behind company policies. If you genuinely do not trust the interviewer, it might portend negative vibes in the company more generally and you might not be the best fit for the job.
All parties need to have a complete understanding of the job to effectively negotiate its particulars. For applicants, information about the company should be gathered beforehand so you can ask more detailed and informative questions. Continue the research during the interview by asking related questions.
Interviewers should have a good idea of everything the prospective employee has submitted as part of their application. It doesn’t have to be memorized, but draw interview questions from the information submitted and refer back to the resume and other materials like case studies to foment discussion.
7- Admit Uncertainty
Both sides of the table can benefit from acknowledging when they aren’t sure about something. For example, the interviewer might ask whether the applicant will accept an offer if it’s extended. If the applicant would like to take some time to consider, that’s a fine and reasonable response.
The company will hopefully be able to say with some certainty whether the position is permanent and what the role will entail, but in cases where that remains to be seen, the interviewer should be up front about it.
If there are some benefits or criteria that are especially important to you as either the applicant or the interviewer for a business, focus on them at the beginning of the discussion. It might help to make a list of the most important factors before the meeting.
One of the best job offer tips out there is to be open about this list of priorities. Beating around the bush is only going to take up unnecessary time, while an open discussion of what each side believes to be most important will speed the negotiations up considerably.
9- Ask Questions
Job offer tips often focus on how to one-up or outsmart the people you’re negotiating with, but this tip is meant to help everyone stay friendly and on the same page. Rather than making demands or setting hard limits, ask questions that are geared toward finding the most mutually beneficial solution.
Hiring design talent is frequently tricky for non-creative hiring managers because they don’t have the perspective to understand the full value of design work. Rather than taking offense, the potential hire could ask a question about how the salary offer could be increased or offset with other benefits.
10- Negotiate Holistically
Creating a job offer is much easier if you look at the whole offer rather than focusing on certain parts. For applicants, this is the only way to visualize what working for the company will really be like. It will also help speed up negotiations most likely since you won’t have to go slowly from one item to the next.
More balanced creative job offers are the product of these types of negotiations. Potential problems and possible fixes are easier to identify with a broader scope.
11- Take Time to Think
This is one of those job offer tips that doesn’t only apply to the final offer itself. Take time to think through answers and questions during the interviews and negotiations too. It will lead to more thoughtful answers and reasonable solutions instead of knee-jerk first ideas.
When the final offer is on the table, take a couple of days at a minimum to consider everything. This goes for both sides of the table. Everyone should review what was agreed upon to make sure it still sounds good.
12- Plan for the Future
If there are some hangups in the discussion, the solution doesn’t have to be immediate. For example, a creative job offer with significant hiring budget constraints can be improved by a definite plan for performance reviews and raises within the first year.
Identifying opportunities for promotion can also give new hires the impression that they can build a long-term career with the company, inciting them to stay longer. Make sure these plans aren’t built like false promises but rather like concrete courses of action.
13- Leave Room for Adjustment
Although a final creative job offer with everything figured out is ideal, you can also leave room for growth in some areas. That doesn’t mean you should leave it completely untouched, but you can agree that some aspects of the job are temporary, even for an introductory period, and will be changed or improved later.
The most important thing about this tip is to make sure everyone is clear about what will change and when. Don’t assume it’s clear. If you’re going to use this tactic, make sure it’s beneficial and completely agreed-upon by everyone involved.
We already know that the person across the table is a human being. But we should also understand their professional perspective. The potential new hire, for example, may have all the passion in the world for their line of work, but at the end of the day, the salary is also their way to live.
Similarly, the interviewer is paid to conduct the negotiations in a particular way. People too often forget this and take a too-adversarial attitude to creative job offer negotiations. Understand that both parties would probably love nothing more than to reach an agreement and get to work.
15- Stay Likeable
Of all the job offer tips in this guide, this last one is the most important. Likeability is the fastest way to reach a mutually agreeable creative job offer and it starts the relationship on the right professional foot, so to speak.
You don’t have to pander to others, but openly communicating, empathizing, understanding, and working together to find solutions will make you likable. Don’t underestimate how much people love for this process to be streamlined.
Hiring design talent takes some work because the new hire and the company are so frequently at odds about certain aspects of the job. It’s not only the salary that can get in the way of bringing new talent on board. Many other factors also have to be considered.
Use the tips in this guide to build the best job offer possible. Both the company and the new talent will benefit from planning and communicating clearly with one another at this critical early stage of the professional relationship.