5 Essential Tips to Negotiate a Job Offer

In today’s tech industry job hopping has nearly become a household term, and with job hopping comes negotiating job offers. A Forbes article claims, “Job hopping is in, and being stuck in a dead-end job is on its way out.” Many assume it’s all about the money, but really “it all comes down to the fact that job hopping allows Millennials to have their say in the direction their career is going," according to the article.

One caveat to job hopping is knowing how to negotiate a job offer. Ideally, this would translate to better pay, better benefits, and/or more equity compensation. Sometimes negotiating isn’t needed. But even if an offer is good enough, it doesn’t hurt to tactfully ask for more. Here are five essential tips to help you negotiate a job offer:

1. Know the Magic Words

“If you can get me 'x', I’ll accept your offer right away.”

This is easily the most powerful statement you can make after receiving a job offer and recruiters absolutely love hearing this from candidates. It gives them something tangible to take back to their hiring committee. Many candidates are unaware of the wiggle room that may exist in their potential salary or other compensation, so thinking to ask for more may not even cross their mind. (For more, see: Measuring Job Satisfaction in the Millennial Age.)

Even if what you’re asking for pushes the envelope a bit, the fact that the recruiter know you will accept the offer if your request is met makes a much stronger case for their committee to hire you. It also has the added benefit of demonstrating a decisive leadership quality, which many companies love.

2. Use Other Offers As Leverage

In any negotiation, having options means having leverage. In most hiring scenarios, it may appear the company is the one with all the power because they hold the hiring decision. You can take back some of that power by having multiple job offers available to you.

By having other job offers, you don’t need to accept each offer, and you can use that to vie for better pay and benefits. This is especially useful if you find yourself with an offer from a company you’d really like to work for but, perhaps, they don't meet your salary needs or desires. Having multiple offers also means you can make your requests in negotiations with confidence and ease.

You can also use your pay and benefits at your current job as leverage if you show your earning potential of staying with your current company to help boost your starting pay and benefits in a new role at a new company. The more options you have, the more leverage you can exert.

3. Explain Your Value

You can’t just ask for more money or better benefits and leave it at that. You also can’t solely rely on good rapport with a recruiter or the fact that the hiring manager likes you. You need to precisely justify the reason you deserve what you’re asking for by explaining your value, whether it is specific experience you have, a particular skill set, or something that makes you stand out from other candidates.. If you can’t clearly justify your request, then you probably shouldn’t ask for it. (For more, see: Salary Negotiation Strategies That Can Backfire.)

Be cognizant of your approach. When talking yourself up or explaining how great of an addition you’ll be to the company, it’s easy to come across as arrogant or boisterous if you haven’t clearly thought through how you’ll present your message. Be positive and confident, but be professional.

4. Analyze the Entire Offer

Most people think a job offer negotiation pertains solely to negotiating your starting salary. This is simply not true. While salary is certainly a component you’d negotiate, other forms of compensation, such as equity (e.g. restricted stock units or stock options), perks (e.g. working from home), and other benefits should be considered as well. In the tech industry, there’s a good chance equity compensation will make up a large part of your overall pay.

If the salary you’re looking for is unattainable, but you really like the company and want to work for them, negotiating more equity compensation can offset the difference and even provide more potential long term. When comparing different job offers, every aspect of your compensation needs to be considered.

5. Don’t Lose Perspective

Even if you're the best negotiator in the world, the actual job itself is what matters the most. You could be making all the money you could ever ask for and have the best benefits you’ve ever had, but if you don’t enjoy your job, what does it matter? Ultimately, the role you take on, the trajectory of your career, and the people you get to work with day in and day out are the true deciding factors in job satisfaction, not the particulars of your compensation.

Hopefully, these tips will help you negotiate better in your next job offer so you can achieve an offer you deserve. Make sure, however, that you do your due diligence in your job hunting process. Even before you arrive at the negotiating table, you should come prepared with the value you bring, other offers, or current job compensation ready to use for negotiating so you set yourself up for success. (For more from this author, see: 3 Side Hustles for Millennial Entrepreneurs.)