In the bounce-back economy, you can negotiate your best job offer package yet

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You’re nine Zoom interviews in and pretty certain you’ve got a “we want you!” call on the horizon. Or maybe you already have that job offer in hand or are simply contemplating a career move and want to make sure you get the most out of that next rung on the ladder.

Whatever the case may be, rest assured that you can build a better job package — and with some strategizing, perhaps land more than you ever dreamed. (Hey, if you can get your obstinate landlord to knock $200 off your monthly rent, anything is possible.)

As the economy continues to bounce back, here’s how to land a more lucrative, perks-filled and overall superior job offer.

Don’t bring up salary off the bat

Holding off on inquiring about salary right away can help you down the line, by, you know, being the candidate that ends up with the shiny offer letter in hand.

“It puts any employer off — myself, especially — when an applicant brings up the salary question within the first few minutes of the interview,” said Ryan Gould, vice president of strategy for Elevation Marketing in Gilbert, Arizona, who has held a fair share of job interviews in his executive role. “I appreciate the honesty and the straightforwardness; however, initiating the compensation topic early on gives me an impression that you are only in it for the money, and not to help me grow the business.”

Since the business is the one making the investment, and he’ll be deciding whether you are worth investing in, you have to at least let him know how you can help the business before you launch into how much you want to be paid.

Once you have the offer, express gratitude — then start negotiating

As the founder of Performio, a sales-commission software company, David Marshall knows a thing or two about sealing the deal. But rather than leading with aggressive counters, he’s all in favor of first saying thanks to the hiring manager for the opportunity and the offer they’ve presented to you.

“Creating an environment of mutual respect is an essential prerequisite to negotiating successfully, and it costs nothing to show common decency and respect,” he said.

Then, request a higher salary.

“I advise clients to ask for more than they actually want, expecting that they will get a ‘no’ at first,” said Katherine Kirkinis, career coach and founder of Wanderlust Careers in Tribeca. “But remember, ‘no’ is the starting point for negotiation. Just as you are asking for more at first, they are likely lowballing. Of course, don’t ask for an amount that is out of touch — do your research,” she said.

To do this, check sites such as Glassdoor.com, Salary.com and LinkedIn.com/salary, as well as asking people in your network.

Kirkinis says it’s ideal if you can back up your counter-proposal with data and research to get the best package. Her suggestion: try saying, “Given that this position is also inclusive of additional responsibilities, such as X, Y, Z, that are outside this scope, I’ve calculated X amount to be added to the compensation package.”

Of course, two job offers are better than one, so if you’re in that lucky scenario, go with: “I’m really excited about the offer. I have a competing offer where they have offered me X above your offer — do you think you can match that?” she suggested saying. (FYI: They might ask to check the formal offer letter to verify your claim.)

Propose a salary offer around 15 percent higher than what you’d be happy to accept
Take Marshall’s advice, even if you feel a little self-conscious about spitting out the number.

“You might feel afraid that they’ll consider it an insult,” he said. “However, that’s none of your concern. In the best-case scenario, they will accept your offer, and you’ll be glad that you asked. Otherwise, it’s no problem: The negotiation begins.”

Marshall added that if the company acts shocked or slighted by your request, it’s a red flag that this isn’t a place you want to work, anyway.

Some other helpful pointers? “The first figure you propose should be a round number, like $40,000. However, as negotiations continue, this number should become increasingly specific, for example, $37,545,” he said. “The reason for this is that people instinctively trust more specific numbers, and tend to be more accepting of the reasoning behind them.”

During this process, don’t be afraid to toot your own horn and take into account how in-demand your field of work is right now as you flex your let’s-make-a-deal muscles.

“Turnover is costly,” noted Kyle Elliott, a career and interview coach based in Santa Barbara, California, with about one-third of his clients in New York City. “It is also common in the hospitality industry,” he said, highlighting a field that is ripe for snagging more competitive offers in the current climate. “If you have a track record of staying with companies for extended periods of time, consider calling attention to this when negotiating your salary.”

Now, think beyond salary

It’s not just heftier compensation you’re angling for, especially in these strange times.

“Everything is negotiable, not just salary. I’ve had clients hit a wall with salary because the company just didn’t have the budget,” Kirkinis said. Ultimately, these candidates have successfully secured more vacation days, remote work, higher equity, shorter vesting periods, and the like, in exchange for taking a lower salary than they may have preferred. “Ask for what you want and be creative. Clients have negotiated child-care benefits, transportation expenses, specific health-care benefits like egg freezing, tuition remission, visa sponsorship,” she said.

Be confident

Everyone has a bit of imposter syndrome when vying for a new job, but don’t let it show.“

Confidence goes a very long way in negotiations, especially when entering a new industry altogether,” said Brian DeChesare, CEO of the investment career platform Breaking Into Wall Street. “Much of my clients’ success, beyond becoming competent in the field through learning, is due to confidence and the general ability to fill any gaps by selling their soft skills.”

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