We have written on various facets of offer negotiations in our blog and on Facebook, so here is a recap of our advice. Please keep in mind that there are no universal rules.
- When to start: While it is understood that we all work for the money, compensation discussion is probably not what a hiring manager wants to engage in during your first conversation. Usually a salary range is been discussed during an initial call with the recruiter to establish that you and the company are on the same page in this regard. If there was no discussion with the recruiter, you may bring this topic up when you are invited to the second round of interviews.
- When to amend: If, during the interview process, you realize that the scope of your responsibilities is significantly broader than was defined in a job description, it is a good idea to bring this to the attention of a hiring team and update them on your acceptable compensation range.
- When to finalize: Ideally, a written offer should have the numbers you are happy with, so try to negotiate all the details during a verbal offer stage. After you sign the offer, it will be really difficult to renegotiate. If there is an agreement on a raise within a certain amount of time after your start date, make sure it is included in the offer as well.
2. Base salary negotiation:
There are two different schools of thought, not surprisingly from the opposite sides of negotiation: One that says a candidate must disclose his/her current salary, the other says that “your salary history is no one’s business”.
Here is our take on this dilemma:
- If you are generally happy with your current compensation and just want a reasonable improvement on it, go ahead and disclose your current salary as a base from which to negotiate. Be prepared that this information can be verified and if it does not match, you can be fired - or your offer may be revoked.
- If you feel strongly against disclosing your current salary, provide a desired range. Of course, your current salary still can be verified, and if it was significantly less than what you are asking, you need to have a good story why such a jump in your worth is justified.
- If your current salary is way below the market, you can be really open about it and explain the reason for this (for instance, the company was sponsoring your Green Card, or this was your first job after graduation), and why you deserve a much higher salary now. In our experience, this is a win-win approach - a hiring team appreciates your openness, and you are more likely to get your desired compensation.
3. When compensation is not negotiable, but you are very interested in joining the company, here is what you can negotiate for instead:
- schedule (vacation days, start/end time, telecommuting);
- job responsibilities / opportunities for growth / training opportunities;
- potential raises.
4. For startup companies, you can (and should!) negotiate your stock options.
For all the above points you are in much better position if you prepare for negotiations by doing research and thinking through all your options.