Why you should always negotiate a job offer

You’ve just been offered your dream job with your dream employer, and the salary looks good, too.

Should you just sign the employment contract-or is there more negotiating to do?

According to new research from CIO.com, you absolutely should negotiate for a better deal. Don’t be shy! Most IT professionals surveyed by CIO.com give the prospective employer a counter offer. Our research shows that job seekers do well by asking for more, too; most of them find that employers will meet them at least part way, if not give them everything they ask for.

Almost everybody-94 per cent of respondents-typically negotiates when considering a job offer; only 6 per cent say they typically accept the first compensation package offered. When people didn’t negotiate, usually it was because they were satisfied with the initial offer, or because they didn’t feel they had a choice. “I was badly in need of a job at that point in time, so I did not negotiate for any benefit,” wrote one respondent.

But there’s at least two ways to ask for more: You can be very specific, identifying exactly what you need before you sign that employment agreement, or you can vaguely ask for more (“Can you do a little better than that?”). Fifty-nine per cent of survey respondents say that in a typical situation, they outline specific requirements, while 35 per cent negotiate without specifying exact requirements.

Being specific in job negotiations pays off. Nine out of ten respondents (92 per cent) who outlined their specific requirements said the prospective employer met their requirements at least partway, and they accepted the job. When the negotiation was vague, 83 per cent said the company met the requirements at least partway, which was good enough for the respondents, who accepted these offers.

The higher you are on the job ladder, the more successful you’ll be in your salary negotiations. You’re also more likely to know what you want. Respondents in more senior IT management positions tend to be specific in setting job requirements and to have those requirements met. Sixty-eight per cent of IT executives typically outline their specific requirements, compared to 53 per cent of IT managers and 48 per cent of IT staff. Nearly all IT executives (93 per cent) report their offers were met at least partway, compared with 89 per cent of IT managers and 78 per cent of IT professionals/staff. IT executives are also more likely to have their requirements met than lower-level respondents.

What’s typically on the table? Unsurprisingly, money is at the top of the list. Salary (83 per cent) is the most common item for which respondents negotiated in their last job offer. Bonuses (56 per cent) and extra vacation or time off (48 per cent) are also frequently cited. (See table for more.) Men are significantly more likely than women to negotiate stock options (26 per cent vs. 13 per cent), while women are more likely to negotiate flex-time (36 per cent vs. 23 per cent). “Typical” behavior covers a lot of ground, so we also asked about the last job search. Almost 9 out of 10 (87 per cent) successfully negotiated during their last job offer before they signed their job contract. Fifty nine per cent of respondents say their prospective employer met them at least partway, and they subsequently accepted the offer while 28 per cent say their requirements were met. Only 8 per cent agreed to the offer after the prospective employer held its ground, and 5 per cent chose to walk away after their prospective employer stood firm or only met them partway. Gender is not a factor in the salary negotiation process. Nearly all (94 per cent) female respondents typically negotiate, compared to 93 per cent of male respondents. Women were slightly more likely than men to leave negotiations open-ended (38 per cent vs. 33 per cent), but the difference is not statistically significant.

However, women should probably be more demanding in setting those specific job requirements because the women responding to the CIO.com survey earn less than their male counterparts. Female respondents, on average, earn $149K annually compared to male respondents, who pocket $160K. Three quarters of male respondents earn over $100K annually, compared to 62 per cent of the women. On the other hand, the job seeker’s age does matter. The older you are, the more likely you are to ask for more. Plus, employers are less likely to bend for younger people. Nearly one in five (18 per cent) of 18- to 34-year-olds agreed to the last job offer after their employer stood firm with the offer. Even if those statistics are reassuring, you may have butterflies in your tummy about actually saying, “Here’s what I need.” You aren’t alone. One in five lack confidence in their ability to successfully negotiate a better package.

Although most respondents (92 per cent) believe compensation negotiations are necessary to get the package they’re worth, 24 per cent believe that applicants who attempt to negotiate their compensation package are perceived negatively by employers.

Survey findings are based on 315 responses from a broad range of industries and with a wide variation in company size. Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of respondents were men and 23 per cent were women (3 per cent declined to answer). The average respondent is 43 and earns an annual salary of $158,100.

Top Ten Items Negotiated In the Last Job Offer

What can you ask for during job negotiations? These are the most common requirements cited in the CIO.com survey.

Salary: 83 per cent

Bonuses: 56 per cent

Vacation/Time off (paid or unpaid): 48 per cent

Relocation expenses: 28 per cent

Flex Time (telecommuting, condensed work week): 27 per cent

Education & Training: 24 per cent

Stock Options: 24 per cent

Healthcare (medical, dental, vision): 20 per cent

Perks (e.g. free parking, golf membership, car): 18 per cent

Severance package: 12 per cent

Here’s some tips for a top notched job interview.

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