By: Taunee Besson
Q: I just got the job offer of my dreams, except for one thing. The compensation seems very low in view of the position’s responsibilities and my prior experience. I would like to ask for a better compensation package, but I’m afraid I will lose the job or start off on the wrong foot with my new employer. Should I take the offer as is or ask for what I want?
A: As a rule of thumb, it’s never a good idea to accept an offer that doesn’t excite you, unless you’ve just found an eviction notice in the mail. Settling for less usually leads to resentment and the desire for something better. Consequently, your agreeing to a compensation package out of sync with your expectations does neither you nor your boss any favors.
Aside from avoiding a lose-lose scenario, there are other reasons why going for the gold, before you say yes, is very important:
♦ At this moment, you are the number one candidate for the position. The employer wants you and no one else. Chances are, she is willing to up the ante if your request is relatively reasonable and couched with diplomacy.
♦ Future raises and benefits are typically based upon initial compensation. If you start too low, you may stay behind the curve for a long time.
♦ It will take at least a year after you’ve been hired to rebuild your perceived value to pre-employment status. It’s human nature for your manager to appreciate you more now than once you’re on board.
♦ Some companies expect a little dickering, especially if they are sales-driven. They want to see how hard you’ll push for a good deal.
♦ If you decide to negotiate, here are some tips for making the process easier:
— Research what the market is paying. It’s more comfortable to ask for a package you think is reasonable. Only “The Donalds” of the world relish demanding the outrageous.
— Start with a counter request that is 100 percent of what you want. If you ask for only 95 percent, it’s unlikely you’ll get more. Think about benefits and perks as well as salary, commission and bonuses. Sometimes it’s easier for an employer to tender an package of enhanced vacation time, computer equipment or continuing education, which improves the overall offer without increasing your taxable income.
— Also develop a couple of alternatives worth less than your plan A, but more than the company’s initial offer. If you don’t like the employer’s counter proposal, suggest your plan B or C instead.
— Listen carefully to counter offers. They may contain ideas you like just as well or better than your own.
— If your negotiation proves fruitless, don’t take the position. Otherwise, the frustrating process you’ve just completed represents what’s ahead anytime you need more resources. You can count on a corporate scrooge being forever stingy.
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.