It’s no surprise that job offer negotiation has changed in today’s market. Job seekers want flexible work options, adding these requests and other new benefits to their negotiation wish list. In response, many employers are adapting offers and fringe benefits to better align with these trends and appeal to today’s top talent.
However, without a crystal ball to reveal what the workplace will look like in the near or longer term, committing to some of these asks today can be challenging. While candidates may want clear promises about flexibility (in location and/or hours) and changes to traditional benefits, employers need to maintain agility to respond to evolving company needs.
The goal when negotiating a job offer is to collaborate toward a mutually satisfying resolution. Both parties must clarify their own priorities, communicate about what they can and cannot commit to (both now and going forward), and if necessary, get creative with solutions. Identifying common ground and where to compromise is essential, as is recognizing when there’s an impasse.
Here is a closer look at how candidates can best prepare for job offer negotiation today by examining options while considering both their own perspective and that of the employers.
Before negotiating, ask yourself: what are your priorities today? These have likely changed since previous job searches, in terms of compensation, flexible work environment, travel, health benefits, vacation etc.
Identifying what’s most important and what can be used for leverage empowers candidates to negotiate from a stronger position. Defining non-negotiables also provides clarity about when to walk away if the employer won’t (or can’t) accommodate every request.
When negotiating salary, consider industry, job function and geographical impacts on expected earnings as well as new influences highlighted by today’s market. For instance, a remote position at a company based in a small market, or a company that recently moved from a major city, may have lower accepted salary ranges than a comparable in-office role in a major metropolitan area – or it may not.
Similarly, some companies now adjust salaries based on where remote employees reside, instead of where the company is based. Many are also grappling with internal equity when considering how to compensate in-office and remote employees. While the jury is still out on standards, leverage your network (whenever possible) to get a sense of how the specific employer handles these issues; this knowledge will aid in negotiations.
Also when possible, investigate the employer’s financials to shed light on how the pandemic or other market shifts have impacted their business. While news headlines and 10Qs/10Ks provide answers on some employers, the availability of this information will vary based on company type, so seek insights about the company from your network too. Taking the time to dig deep into a company will enable you to make a persuasive case for a compensation package that best aligns with your requirements and is within reason for the employer.
Not only have company hiring processes changed, their approaches to offers and negotiation have as well. Many already utilized Total Rewards Packages to highlight perks and help candidates see value beyond salary and traditional benefits (like health insurance). While this approach continues, employers are shifting benefits to better align with today’s workplace standards and employee needs. Knowing what new options are out there can help you determine what perks to ask for when traditional factors lose relevance.
Companies that previously offered wellness benefits like gym memberships, for example, may now provide employees with a monthly stipend to use toward home fitness equipment or online classes. In lieu of access to a well-stocked office kitchen, some employers send periodic healthy snack packages to remote workers. For roles with eliminated commute and travel requirements, benefits like parking stipends, subway/rail passes and mileage reimbursements are no longer relevant. Instead, employers can add value with things like stipends for high-speed internet and TV subscriptions.
Changing expectations may call for collaborative solutions that address the needs of the employee while remaining within the bounds of company resources. Instead of rejecting new or untested ideas, whenever possible, both sides should engage in an open discussion about how to make ‘work’ work for everyone.
Employers are often willing to consider alternative options, especially to win the interest of top talent and attract a broader range of candidates, but during negotiations you can’t hold an employer to something they haven’t yet made a business decision on. If working remotely full-time is a non-negotiable for you and the employer is unwilling to commit to it, then that's a sign to walk away. However, if it’s just a strong preference, ask for it in the near term with a proposed timeline to reevaluate. If you exceed expectations during that initial period, you may have more leverage to negotiate an extension of the remote arrangements.
Arriving at a job offer you want to say yes to is a process that requires careful handling. Not only must candidates know their priorities and nice-to-haves, they must also understand where the company is coming from, including its evolving workplace norms and fiscal outlook. Thinking about both sides of the table can help you identify where to push, where to concede and where to think outside the box, ultimately to drive a workable solution and successful offer negotiation.