Negotiation Etiquette

Closing deal with a candidate

Negotiation Etiquette

You did it! You finally got the call with the brilliant job offer you’ve been waiting all week for, only the offer itself isn’t so brilliant.  Or maybe you are now nervously waiting to hear back from a company after a recent interview. Whatever your situation, brushing up on your negotiation etiquette is never a bad idea.  We’ve all heard the old adage, “you catch more bees with honey”, and it’s never been truer than when negotiating in a professional environment.

Here are some tips on negotiation etiquette that will up your chances of getting what you want.

  1. Keep it Real

While it’s true most initial offers have wiggle room, it’s important to present a realistic counter.  Have no idea how much to ask for? Well, if the job is a lateral move to a better company a straightforward increase of 5-10% of your current salary is a pretty realistic counter.

If, however you are seeking a promotion, it’s best to get online and do some internet digging on what the average salary range is for that job title in your area.  When you find the range, remember that the upper tier of that scale is based on individuals with years of experience and you are essentially “entry level” for that position.

Also, be aware of where the company exists within their market.  If you are looking to move from a big corporation to a company with a smaller market share, salary and benefit budgets just aren’t comparable. By the same token, if you are moving from a mom and pop to a big corporation, go ahead a ask for a bit more – they won’t flinch!

Having said that, be sure the offer you accept is something you will be comfortable with and fairly represents the level of experience, skill, and work ethic you bring to the table. It’s a lot harder to negotiate salary after you’ve joined the team.  Conversely, if they are paying top dollar; they are expecting big results and will be quicker to pull the termination trigger if you underperform.

  1. Keep it Positive

Some people get really into salary negotiations….. I mean really into it.  Before long, a recruit can find themselves emotionally charged by the entire process and get a little too casual.  Remember, you are not buying a car and the person you are speaking to represents the company you ultimately hope to work for.  A less than impressive offer isn’t a personal slight, it’s a business dealing.

When you present a counter offer, be sure to use positive and upbeat language that assumes a mutually beneficial outcome to the talks and impresses upon them how eager you are to join the team, once an agreeable salary has been worked out.  In sales, we call this the “assumptive close”.  Not only does it exude confidence, but also ups your likeability factor.  It’s a good indicator to your potential employer that you positively approach challenges and are conflict resolution oriented.

  1. Keep it Creative

Once you’ve negotiated salary and benefits, if there is still a gap between their bottom line and yours, get creative.  The fact that they have already negotiated salary means they’re invested and there are plenty of other perks you could throw on the table that would be mutually beneficial.  These items can include: vacation time, work from home days, company car, tuition or continuing education reimbursement, gym membership, wellness programs, title, on-site daycare fee waived, etc.  Heck, I even heard of a hotel manager who negotiated free dry cleaning at their on-site facility.

The idea here is to find something that has a real dollar or quality of life value for you that the company can provide for a fraction or no cost to themselves. Win, win!

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