“C” is for Offer Negotiation

Sesame Street- quite possibly the most famous street in existence. Known not only for the furry friends who call it home but also for the many lessons it taught us growing up as children. What if I told you though that the lessons shared by those familiar characters on Sesame Street don’t have to end with our childhood? Watch the video below to see how they continue to provide us with helpful tips well into our professional lives as well!

Cookie Monster is one, well, smart cookie. Not only did Cookie know how to speak about the position he wanted but he also knew how he wanted/needed to be compensated. However, there was one small crack in Cookie’s approach…he accepted the first offer he received which did not include any of the main items he was looking for! Now, we can’t really blame Cookie because who wouldn’t want to work for delicious, ooey-gooey, baked goods, but unfortunately, cookies don’t pay the rent, school loans, grocery bills, etc..  Here are some steps Cookie should have followed in his offer negotiation tactics that you should also consider when deciding to accept a job offer.

Consider the full compensation package. While company perks and fringe benefits like free snacks (say, cookies, and milk for example) and dedicated nap areas are great, you need to ask yourself how those compare to the needs of your day-to-day living expenses. When weighing the pros and cons of the offer presented remember to take into consideration not just the salary figure but also other items like health benefits packages; bonus and/or commission structures; company contributions in the way of retirement accounts, education reimbursement, savings/spending accounts, commuting assistance, etc.; time off and holiday allowances, remote work capabilities, and so on. Each company will be unique in their offerings so it’s important to look at each offer individually if comparing multiple offers at the same time.

Calculate your Counter Offer. After taking the full compensation package into consideration you will need to present a salary figure to your potential employer. This figure should represent not only your personal financial needs but also a competitive value that aligns with the similar going rates of others in that position. When researching related salaries, it’s important to do a cookies to cookies comparison that includes positions and experience levels akin to your specific industry and intended geographic area. To help you get a better idea of what your market value may look like, consider using on-line tools like PayScale or Glassdoor. You can also do an occupation quick search in O*Net to view the wages and employment trends for specific jobs by each individual state. Remember to present the number that you want/need-based on your research and assessment, not a number you think the company will compromise to.

Clearly articulate your reasoning for the extra [cookie] dough. While it may be tempting to tell your potential employer you need more money because your student loan payments are coming due, they may not be as sympathetic to that as you’d hope. When determining salary costs, employers need to confidently understand the value you will bring to the position/company and, ultimately, why you are worth the increased investment. To this point, make sure you remain calm and conversational in your discussions. If you allow your emotions (be it financial fears, nerves, ego, etc.) to enter the negotiation you run the risk of becoming defensive or argumentative should the employer counter back. If that happens, remember it is all part of negotiating! One of the keys to a successful negotiation is focusing on the facts and not the feelings.

Confidence is key. Without a doubt, negotiating a job offer may be one of the scariest things you will ever do in your career.  As recently mentioned in a blog (5 Things the Best Negotiators Know) published by The Muse, “Asking [for a higher salary] is a seed.” says Molly Fletcher, a sports agent who represents top sports figures in the MLB, PGA, NBA, and NCAA. “It either takes root or withers, and the outcome depends on many factors beyond your control- which is understandably frightening.” The more confident you feel in your proposal and facts that support it, the more receptive the employer may be to the request as well. To help keep nerves at bay and confidence high, try reciting positive messages to yourself regarding your skills and qualifications. Try to also minimize outside distractions or influences that could take your focus off the task at hand. And remember, if your far enough along in the process to be negotiating an offer it means the employer has already seen something they like- reason enough to feel confident about your skills!

The Center for Career Development has multiple resources available to help walk you through all your job offer negotiation needs. For starters, we recommend reading through our “Negotiating the Job Offer” tip sheet at career.uconn.edu. You can also register to attend an upcoming “Negotiating Job Offers” webinar- Click here to see our full schedule of webinar offerings. If in-person discussions are more your thing, you can always schedule a career coaching appointment for additional guidance. Good luck!

By Kristen Soprano
Kristen Soprano Career Consultant Kristen Soprano