Negotiating the terms

After fighting off hordes of other candidates’ CVs to be shortlisted for your dream job, then trumping the lot in the interview room, it’s natural to not even waste a nanosecond in accepting the job offer.

But before you bellow your acceptance down the phone, it’s in your best interest to consider the offer and employment agreement closely.

What they have given you isn’t set in stone, and there might be room to negotiate the terms of what they’re offering you.

Establish what you’re worth

Knowing what you’re worth in the workplace – your market value – can be a tricky thing to pin down. But, particularly with experience in your industry already under your belt, there are ways to find out – and you should do so before heading in to negotiations.

How?

  • Research what similar positions in your industry earn. Dig around a bit on the internet, look at job advertisements, read reports etc. Or, contact those within your industry network (not your future boss) and ask them for some friendly salary bracket advice.

  • Talk to recruiters and ask for an appraisal of what you might be worth to an employer.

  • Research the company looking to hire you. Are there any reports available on salaries? What is their typical salary range? What benefits do they offer other employees?

From this research, establish a bottom line of what you’re prepared to accept. Then, head into the negotiating room.

Also consider potential bonuses or commission (if your job is commissioned-based),  and whether these need to be spelled out in the agreement.

What else can you negotiate on?

  • You could ask for a flexible working hours policy to suit your lifestyle and personal situation, such as working around a family or a long commute, rather than a fixed amount of hours. This may, of course, not be suitable for every industry or role.

  • Similarly, to keep in touch with your workplace while you’re out and about, or if you will be working evenings from home, then a company phone, tablet or other device could be part of the deal. As could be a company car, if your role requires you to be out and about.

  • Does your role require a great deal of travel? Flying premium class may be something you can request, along with airline lounge memberships and keeping any travel points you acquire along the way. Or perhaps you can ask for extra holiday hours to compensate for the time spent in airport waiting lounges rather than at home.

  • Look to your previous research and ask for the same benefits that others at your level are getting. Think gym memberships, parking spaces, health insurance packages. You don’t have a car to park and hate gyms? Perhaps those non-benefits for you could be translated into dollars in your salary.

  • Salary, obviously. Don’t settle for bottom dollar if your research tells you you’re worth more, and tell your employer why you’re worth more. Like any good negotiation, aim high and leave yourself room to move, but remain realistic.

It’s not all about the money... until it is

Obviously your pay packet is of importance, but this is your chance to look beyond the dollars and probe further into what each side is getting out of the employment agreement.

Consider:

  • Do you value the experience you’re gaining, the perks you’re being offered and the flexibility of the role enough to offset the remuneration you’re being offered? Then, great.

  • If the opposite is true, then either enquire about a higher salary if appropriate – backed up by your research, or enquire whether future salary increases, reviews or promotions may be added into the agreement.

  • The bottom line is that you need to leave the negotiation table feeling like you’ve entered an agreement that you are satisfied with. And you don’t want to regret not pushing harder in your employment negotiations.

Get support if you need it

You don’t have to work it all out on your own. Ask a lawyer, friend, family member or contact to give you a hand – confidentially of course. Having someone to bounce ideas off may make negotiating easier and more straight forward, less personal.

More information

Head to employment.govt.nz to find out more.