Personal finance

Negotiating a job offer works: 85% of Americans who counteroffered were successful. Here’s how to do it

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When it comes to negotiating a job offer, if you don’t ask — you won’t receive.

It turns out many don’t ask, according to a survey from Fidelity Investments.

Some 58% of Americans accepted the initial offer at their current position without negotiating, the survey found.

Yet negotiating works. Fully 85% of Americans — and 87% of young professionals ages 25 to 35 — who countered on salary, other compensation or benefits, or both pay and other compensation and benefits got at least some of what they asked for, according to Fidelity. The survey, conducted March 8-14 by Engine Insights, polled 1,524 U.S. adults ages 25 to 70 who currently work either full- or part-time.

“People feel like they can’t or shouldn’t negotiate, but companies expect you to negotiate,” said Caroline Ceniza-Levine, executive coach at Dream Career Club.

“They respect good negotiators,” she added. “They respect you if you can advocate for yourself.

“They want someone with that confidence to be on their side of the table.”

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Confidence is key. Therefore, do your homework. Research compensation for your job, field and location. Also, ask other people about their salaries or what they know about pay for the job.

“If you understand what you can ask for, if you are doing a good job showing your value, it would help increase the confidence you have going into any salary negotiations,” said Kelly Lannan, senior vice president of emerging customers at Fidelity Investments.

Before you counteroffer, identify what you want. It may be a higher paycheck, or it might be about a bonus, benefits, title or scope of the job.

When focusing on salary, remember that even if the salary is in line with market data, you can still sell your specific skill set or experience as a reason for a higher rate, Ceniza-Levine said.

People feel like they can’t or shouldn’t negotiate, but companies expect you to negotiate.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine
Executive coach at Dream Career Club.

If higher pay isn’t in the cards, you can also negotiate for those non-salary items.

“Really look at the entirety of the offer and don’t just be so quick to say whoever gets the most money wins,” she said.

Also, think about what is going on at the company. For example, do they need you to start right away? If so, that may be worth additional pay or a bonus to start earlier, she said.

If possible, negotiate with the person who will make the ultimate decision. If you can’t, try to do your best to develop a rapport with the individual you are speaking with, like the recruiter, so they can be a good steward of your case, Ceniza-Levine advised.

How you approach the employer with a counteroffer also matters. Be clear that you are excited to work for the company and highlight the skills and value you bring to the table, Lannan said.

“The way our engage in the conversation is just as important as the points you are making,” she said.

At the end of the day, it never hurts to ask. If the answer is “no,” it doesn’t mean the job offer will be rescinded. Plus, you can always revisit the topic down the road.

“‘No’ just means ‘not now,'” Ceniza-Levine said. “It’s not forever.”

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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