It’s really exciting to be offered a new job, but what should you do if the offer presented doesn’t quite match your expectations?

Negotiating a job offer doesn’t come naturally to most, with many people tending to avoid it altogether. As uncomfortable as it may feel to have this conversation, it’s crucial that any new job you start is going to be a good fit for you. If the offer you’ve been presented with doesn’t tick all your boxes, it’s time to negotiate!

Let our latest top tips help guide you through the do’s and don’ts of negotiating a job offer:

Should I negotiate a job offer?

If you’ve been job hunting for a while, it’s understandable that you might be hesitant to negotiate on an offer that’s been presented to you, after all you don’t want to make your prospective employer regret their decision to choose you!

It’s not easy negotiating on something that feels so personal, but you need to ensure it’s going to be the right role for you and that means getting optimal conditions right from the start. Though it may feel like an uncomfortable thing to do, pushing back on aspects of the job offer that you’re not satisfied with is something you should do – just be smart about how you approach it!

Before starting the negotiation conversation, consider what you already know about the role and the organisation in question. For example, if it’s been made really clear throughout the recruitment process that the top of the salary band is $X, trying to negotiate above that when it gets to job offer stage is not likely to be received well. It’s a similar situation for office hours and working environment – if you’ve already been advised that they expect the role to be worked onsite, or that flexible working only applies to certain days, then trying to negotiate on those things at the last minute will leave the employer wondering if you were paying attention during the recruitment process!

If you ever have any questions about a job you’re being considered for, make sure you ask them before it gets to the offer stage so there’s no surprises for either party at the end!

When should I negotiate?

As mentioned before, avoid surprises at the end of a recruitment process by being open and transparent around your expectations. This can include salary, hours of work, flexibility, annual leave and tools of the trade.

If you know going into a process that there’re certain things you can’t budge on i.e. a particular salary level or a set start or finish time, make sure you cover this off right from the start so that your application can be considered with those requests in mind.

When presented with a job offer, you must be given what is defined as a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to consider the job offer and seek independent advice if you wish. No set number of days has been defined by employment law, but best practice is at least five working days, and it will often be outlined in the letter of offer how long the job offer is valid for. The sooner you can kickstart the negotiation conversation, the better for everyone involved.

Be prepared to hear “no”

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much of a perfect match you are for the job, the employer will have limits in terms of what they can offer. As much as they’d love to, they may not be able to accommodate your requests for a variety of reasons likely beyond their control. If this is the case, you’ll need to do some soul-searching to decide if the things that can’t be negotiated on are deal-breakers for you. Or whether there are other elements of the role that make up for the things you can’t have. Take a look at our previous tips on how to decide if a role is going to be right for you to help with that thought process.

If in the end you conclude that it’s a deal breaker for you, let the employer or recruiter know as soon as possible. Dragging things out could mean they potentially miss out on other applicants that could have been considered in your place, so it’s best to let them know your decision as soon as possible.

Attitude is Everything:

Entering into any kind of negotiation should always be done in good faith, especially when it comes to job offers. While some advice out there might tell you to shoot for the stars and go big with your requests, coming to the negotiating table with unrealistic expectations or a pushy attitude can sour things before they’ve even begun. You’ve likely heard that it’s a candidate short market at the moment, but that’s not an invitation to play hardball with employers!

While it thankfully doesn’t happen very often, we’ve had employers withdraw a job offer because they were disappointed with the way the candidate handled negotiations – they didn’t mind that the candidate wanted to negotiate on the offer, but they didn’t appreciate the approach that was taken to get there. Go into any negotiation process with an open mind and demonstrate that you’ve taken everyone’s point of view into consideration.

Good luck,
Kirsty and Nikki

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