Saturday, April 21, 2012

Negotiating the job offer: easier said than done?

As a third year PR student, I will be confronted to the job market sooner than I would have liked. To prepare us to face the sharks out there, me and my fellow students were taught how to negotiate a job offer. Although this was very helpful and reminded us that we are skilled and have valuable competences, it has come to my attention that arguing over a salary or days of holiday is not that easy, no matter how much experience you have.

From a young graduate perspective, I even find it inconceivable to tell a manager that we want a higher salary. We have been warned so many times about the difficulty to find a job that actually suits us during the three years of my degree that the idea of negotiating the conditions of a job has left me quite sceptical. Shouldn’t we just be grateful if we actually do manage to find a job that would allow us to fulfil our potential? Personally, I think I would be too scared that the employer might turn around and say: “Right, so you want more money, now, do you? Well it’s a shame because the other 200 candidates did not ask for that much. Good luck in finding a job love!”.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’m worth and will not let a prospective employer walk all over me or exploit me. But would I really try to argue that I want a higher salary, a company card and more holidays in this economical context? I highly doubt it. As long as the job offer is not incredibly undermining my skills, I think I’ll just take it and welcome changes to the contract as I go along.

Does this only apply to young graduates? Do we feel like this because we don’t know what we want yet and don’t know I to get what we want? Probably, and I’m sure that we will learn how to sell ourselves better over the years.

But I would also imagine that an employee who’s being promoted and tries to negotiate a higher salary than the one that was offered to them is also tricky. Again, I don’t think the current context (recession) allows anybody to be picky. Negotiating a job offer, yes, but not too much. There are thousands of people out there who would just take it as it is, why risking to be replaced by them?

I am aware that I probably sound very pessimistic, and I don’t know how you would negotiate (or not) the conditions of your job, but I would personally try to keep a low profile until I know I am in the position to negotiate and get what I want.

If you feel the courage to negotiate your job offer assertively, here's the link to a very helpful guide to being assertive. You will learn about yourself, your skills and the misconceptions, advantages and dangers of assertiveness.


  1. whatever you do, don't try to negotiate BEFORE the offer has been made! Once it has been made, the company has made a commitment (and an emotional investment)so it is possible. After twenty five years' worth of career, I can honestly say that I have been really successful at getting extra perks because I have not been afraid to ask. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" is the motto. As a result I have been offered a company car, a paid sabbatical, a season ticket loan, a car parking space and all sorts of other benefits. But, don't expect to negotiate a big salary uplift- that's the one thing that is usually set in advance, so harder to negotiate. Having a good understanding of what is available to other employees in the company helps- just getting something into your package that other staff members are getting is easier than asking for something that no one else gets. So, do your research, and negotiate from a position of knowledge.

    1. Thank you very much for your advice. It is very important for us young graduates to learn how to negotiate as early as possible in our career and fight the fear or being dismissed because we had the courage to ask. But from my experiences, very young candidates don't really know HOW to ask, even when they know WHAT to ask. It is this gap that needs to be filled in order to successfully get more out of a job.
      I agree with you that the salary is very hard to negotiate, and very often, young graduates are not fully aware of their worth and what to expect according to the different positions.
      It is however true that once the offer has been made, the company does not necessarily want to go back to square one because they couldn't meet the candidate's expectations. This is very valuable, thank you!

  2. Hello fellow blogger, first of all a very interesting blog. I certainly think for a young person who is just stepping into the world work, negotiation may seem like a scary task. Some people, especially undergraduates are just grateful when ANY job opportunity comes through, making the task of salary negotiation even more difficult. Although I think with the right amount of preparation you can actually succeed in securing yourself that dream, well paid job. I talked about some of the steps you may consider in my blog post on negotiation. Please check it and and feel free to comment:



    1. Hi Patrick! Negotiating a job offer as a young graduate is indeed a very scary task. We are reminded every day of the difficulty to find a job in this market. But as you said, preparation mixed with some skills and confidence can actually provide us with the ammunition to get the wanted job. Thank you for the tips you provide on your blog, it is what can make the difference between good negotiation and hesitation.