Should I Ask? Is It Negotiable? | Articles & Tips | | Rochester




 Articles and Advice

 Should I Ask? Is It Negotiable?

By Joe Stein

Somebody once said the famous quote, “Everything is negotiable!” I am not sure the origin of this saying, or in what context it was first stated, but it has become over time something of a soapbox mantra for those asking for something. This seems to especially be the mindset in the situation of a Job Seeker. The belief being to go ahead and ask for it (or more of it) in negotiations because it is on the table.
I think the common belief is that there is no downside for a candidate to ask for something at the time of job offer. The idea is that the worst that can happen is you are told no and continue to negotiate from there. If you read some employment advice experts, they will tell you that if you are told “No” on minor issues, or told there is no negotiation, then you probably don’t want to work for them anyway. The thought being that they are not a progressive enough company or do not want you bad enough to grant you what you wish. There are some areas, however, that are typically non-negotiable in the minds of the prospective employer or, if granted, could result in a potential concession back. A worst case scenario would be a simple request could lead to a loss of goodwill between the two parties.
The most common item to be asked for in negotiations is compensation. This is usually the area where some feel you can truly “shortchange” yourself by not asking for more. This is because some companies will actually reduce the offer a little bit, or not come forward initially with their highest salary in order to have some wiggle room if a Job Seeker makes the request. All situations will be unique however, and you shouldn’t become offended if your salary counter offer is not immediately accepted as there are other factors that may be in play. These could be the departmental labor budget, or internal equity with potential co-workers who have similar (or perhaps even more) experience than you.
An area where there really is not maneuverability, so asking for something different or more is fruitless, is with the traditional or core benefit plan. These plans, such as Medical or 401k, are “one size fits all” and are governed by regulations or plan documents limiting any exceptions. There is the opportunity to pursue some other benefits, with the most common one up for negotiation is “Paid Time Off or PTO”. This is especially important to note since often PTO is built with tenure in an organization. So, if you have been with a company for quite a while, then you perhaps would be regressing in your time off if you just accepted the normal allotment for a new hire. Some companies have the mindset that PTO is a reward for service time and it is unfair to make an exception for a new hire, but many companies do allow for some negotiation in this area.
There are other items that candidates may bring up during negotiations. Amongst the newer “hot” requests involves the ability to work from home part or all of the work week. The ability to work an “off” or “flex” schedule is also a popular non-monetary negotiation request.
A challenging area that you may have to negotiate is the length of your notice period. Most employers want their new employee after no more than a one or two-week notice period. Unfortunately, many companies want a two week (or more) notice period from a resigning employee, particularly for those working in a management position. This is an area I suggest holding pretty firm to what you feel is the right thing to do and you want to leave your current employer in a professional way.
If you do have multiple items that are on your potential negotiation list, then you should consider prioritizing these requests. Too long of a list or one that is not prioritized may serve to be overwhelming to the company, or they may select what they want to give in on (which will probably be the easiest and cheapest item and not necessarily what you most want). I suggest focusing on the one (no more than two items) that are most important to you. Use caution when bringing any new items up after this, as continually bringing up different requests can be frustrating to a company not knowing when your negotiation attempts will end.
There is some risk that comes with negotiation. While most companies understand that it is part of the process, some employers are really turned off by a candidate not accepting right away. They may perceive your attempts to negotiate as a reflection of your real interest in the role, or a symbol of how difficult you will be to manage in the future (someone who is always dissatisfied). In a worst case scenario, you may even see your Offer rescinded as the company moves on to another candidate.
For most positions above entry-level, some level of negotiation can be expected and is common to see. There is an “art” to negotiation and you should be done with planning when making any counter requests from the initial offer received. Taking this strategic approach can land you an important improvement or two without harming your new relationship with the company.
As always, best of luck in your job search.