Job Offer Negotiations: Risk Or Opportunity?

negotiation job offer

“It’s time to celebrate!” you might say once receive an offer from a dream company. However, someone else will say “it’s time to negotiate.” Who

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“It’s time to celebrate!” you might say once receive an offer from a dream company. However, someone else will say “it’s time to negotiate.” Who is right? On the one hand, there is a chance to increase salary and improve work conditions. On the other hand, there are plenty of risks, including the possibility of losing a job opportunity. 

Job negotiations in numbers

… from the employee’s perspective:

  • Only 39% of workers tried to negotiate salary with their last job offer (Robert Half staffing agency)
  • 52% of men and 68% of women accept a salary offer without negotiating (Glassdoor)
  • Many women don’t negotiate their salary because they feel it makes them appear desperate or greedy. 

… from the employer’s perspective:

  • 53% percent of employers say they are willing to negotiate salaries on initial job offers and expect a counteroffer from a candidate (CareerBuilder).

Predictably enough, the majority of candidates do not tend to bargain to avoid making an ambiguous impression on an employer. And only half of the employers expect that a candidate will initiate job offer talks and consider it being OK. So, how to act?

Is it appropriate to negotiate?

The main thing you should keep in mind here is that job offer negotiations actually start when you apply for a job. The final salary proposal of an employer is rarely based on something abstract. It usually takes into account the sum that was mentioned in your CV, voiced expectations, and the situation on the market in your industry. So, if you and an employer were talking about a concrete sum and then you decided to suddenly raise it – be prepared for a negative reaction by a company. 

Another important moment here – if you decide to engage in job offer talks – is to ensure that you can spell out the value you can bring for a company. If you cannot clearly formulate WHY you deserve the higher pay, it will be very hard to persuade an employer that it makes sense at all. 

When you start discussing your salary package with an employer, always be ready for a scenario when you will have to walk away if a trade-off is not reached. In other words, having a plan B is always a good idea. Meanwhile, if you are not in a position to decline an offer, it’s better to accept what has been proposed by a company.

What can be negotiated?

By the way, the compensation package is not the only negotiable aspect on the table. Note that a pay gap between the offered sum and the desired one can be compensated with other perks. Based on what you need and want, look at the list below and select several items that are most important to you and then prioritize them once again:

  • Salary
  • Start date
  • Job tasks and responsibilities
  • Bonuses
  • Job title
  • Training & Education opportunities
  • Travel reimbursement
  • Schedule flexibility
  • Level of authority/reporting issues
  • Laptop, mobile phone, home office technology
  • Relocation expenses

Negotiating salary with German employers

Take a look at what Marat Yakupov, Zero to One Search founder and CEO, is saying regarding the issue:


“Remember that re-evaluating your salary expectations that you stated to the employer when applied for a job may be seen negatively. During the first call with a hiring manager, you should find out the most important things about the position and determine your salary expectations based on that. If you start re-negotiating the compensation package right after receiving an offer, you might lose it, because everyone expects each other to stick to their words.”

If you are still willing to start the talks with an employer, keep in mind several important tips:

  1. Make your own research. 

Your expectations should always have grounds. In fact, your homework should start even before applying to a particular company – research the level of salary for your position in a particular industry and location; find out how long the company has been looking for a candidate; what is a turnover in the role and why; how urgent the hire is for a company.

  1. Ask questions instead of laying down demands

Always ask questions – this is a tip not only for job offer talks but for the whole employment process. When you do this during interviews – you compile a broader picture of an employer and its goals and therefore make your research (see point 1) more reliable. When it comes to negotiating a job offer, stick to a similar strategy. For example, if asking for a higher salary, formulate your question like: “Based on my specific skills, I was expecting a higher starting salary. What can we do to increase this number?” Persuade an employer that your goal is a win-win solution!

  1. Determine the limits of flexibility

It could be an option to settle for a lower wage if you and an employer agreed for a pay increase after the probation period, for example. Discuss such vital issues in advance, make a plan for your compensation progress and conditions for it together with the employer. 

  1. Properly present your value. 

Never make job offer negotiations solely about your needs and wants. Explain to the employer how it will benefit from hiring you. Prove your value, demonstrate it on the examples of what you already did for previous employers: talk about your completed projects and their value for the business, innovations you were engaged in, mention people who can recommend you as a professional. 

  1. Do not underestimate the importance of likability.

In the end, you aim to make an employer make an emotional attachment to you. Try to be positive, polite, tactful, and open in any scenario – it also reflects how you handle stress on the job. 

How to properly decline an offer?

It is OK if you failed to reach necessary trade-offs with an employer and decided to turn down an offer. To do that right way, stick to several important rules:

  • Do not just disappear. Notify an employer about your decision without dragging out the recruitment process.
  • It’s always better to have a phone call instead of sending a formal email. Remember that it is in your interest to remain on good terms with a company even if your communication did not result in employment.
  • Be consistent and polite, briefly explain why you’re turning an offer down. While explaining the reasons to decline a proposal, focus on yourself, instead of a company, avoid criticism or negativity. 
  • It is also a good idea to let other people who have been part of the interview process know about your decision.
  • Thank a person who made you an offer for the opportunity and communication:)

In conclusion, let’s summarize several crucial points regarding the job offer talks:

  • Negotiating a compensation package with an employer is the candidate’s right, but you should be aware of all risks, including the one of losing a job offer. 
  • Do not suddenly change your salary expectations – it might be perceived negatively by a company.
  • Make a research about the average salary in your industry and region, the current situation on the market and within a company.
  • If you decided to negotiate, compile a strategy: think about issues you are going to negotiate and determine the limits of your flexibility regarding each of them.
  • Properly present your value to a future employer: talk about your successful projects and achievements.
  • Be polite and open! Do not underestimate the importance of likability:)

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