Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of a story that was originally published in July 2021.
Millions of people are quitting their jobs and finding new ones in what has been dubbed the Great Resignation.
In February, there were more than 11 million job openings, according to the Labor Department, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6% in March, a new pandemic-era low.
If you are looking for a job, you’ve got the advantage. And if you’ve received a job offer, it’s now time to negotiate.
While salary tends to be the major negotiation point, it’s not the end of the conversation. There are other benefits and perks that can be flexible as well.
Stay mum on pay, until the time is right
Recruiters often ask for a salary figure early in the hiring process – but try to avoid giving a number.
“You don’t want to box yourself in,” said Alexandra Dickinson, a career and negotiation coach and founder of Ask For It. “You want to talk about money when they want you, they need you, they got to have you…they will find it for you.”
And if a recruiter asks about your current salary, don’t say it, she advised. “You don’t want to be paid based on what you did before, you want to be paid based on the skill set you are bringing to the current role in the marketplace you are in right now.”
Some state and local laws prohibit employers from asking applicants about salary history.
The right time to bring pay up is at the end of the process, after you’ve received an offer.
“You never start to negotiate in the midst of an interview,” said Victoria Medvec, author of “Negotiate Without Fear” and executive director of the Center for Executive Women at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “You’re not negotiating before they’ve said: ‘We want to hire you.’”
The key is having a well-researched salary number, that Dickinson said is “high, but not over the crazy line.”
Websites like Glassdoor, PayScale and LinkedIn can help provide a sense of what people in similar roles, experience levels and markets are making.
Once you have a consensus of what is a reasonable amount, Dickinson advised coming up with three different numbers: your wish, want and walk.
“Wish is a high specific number you open with; want is the actual target, that is a little lower; and walk is the point in which the deal is no longer good for you – you have to set that in advance,” she said.
Be specific about bonuses
If an annual bonus is part of your compensation package, make sure to look at the percentage and whether it’s prorated based on the time you joined the company, suggested Tessa White, CEO of The Job Doctor.
“Companies have ranges for bonuses and most people leave that alone,” White said.
If a company prorates its bonus, it can mean losing out on money.
“A huge mistake that people make is they don’t make sure they negotiate that their bonus won’t be prorated that first year so they don’t lose money,” said White.
And if a bonus isn’t included in an offer, you can try to negotiate one – but ask for a specific plan.
White said to find out what would be considered exceeding expectations in the role you’re interviewing for and then propose a bonus in your counteroffer that if you do XYZ, then a bonus of X would follow.
“Companies love when they can give something because they get something. What they don’t like is negotiating for the sake of negotiating,” White said. “Understanding what’s a win for them is essential in the bonus conversation.”
Working where you want
Working from home might mean you get to wear more comfortable clothing or take a call during a nice walk – but that’s not how you ask for a flexible schedule.
When asking to work remotely either all the time or a few days a week, experts advised showcasing how it will be beneficial for the company.
And to calm any concerns, White recommends suggesting regular check-ins to tweak the arrangement as necessary and review productivity measures.
“Any time you frame something you are asking for as an experiment, you are going to have much greater luck than if they think this is a permanent thing.”
What’s in a title? A lot
Negotiating a title can be financially beneficial to you as your career progresses.
“Any time you can go up the ladder on those titles, it increases pay,” said White. “So if you get a higher title, even though the company may not be paying you more, when you compare that title and move to the next job your pay comparables are higher. You’ve created the illusion of a higher paying job.”
Training and other professional development can also boost your long-term career goals, and can be part of your negotiations.
White suggested asking for a set dollar amount per year for career-enhancing activities like classes or conferences.
Got an offer? Spread the news
If an offer comes along when you are still interviewing with other companies, let the other employers know.
“Your biggest source of power is your sense of alternatives,” said Medvec. She suggested reaching out to the other hiring managers and letting them know you have an offer, but are really interested in that role and don’t want to move forward without checking in.
“You want to express high levels of interest and excitement about their role,” she said, but avoid completely committing to accepting an offer if one is made.
“People like to hire somebody who somebody else wants to hire,” she said. “There is this inferred value when other people want to hire you that you are a good hire.”