If necessary, negotiate any terms you are not happy with. Your bargaining power is highest right after receiving an offer, so don't neglect this step and assume you can "fix" it later. At the same time, don't try to negotiate every item or you will just look greedy.
Not everything will be negotiable, and bargaining power is also based on the position. If you have highly specialized skills that few people possess, you are in a better position to negotiate than if there is a surplus of qualified candidates.
Here are some items you may be able to negotiate.
SalaryMany companies will have a salary range for any given position and may be flexible on the final number. Before beginning negotiations, make sure you research salaries for similar positions in the same geographical region. Similar positions can have vastly different salaries in different parts of the country.
If the salary is not negotiable, ask if the company offers performance bonuses tied to appraisal reviews. If so, try to negotiate an early review to boost your salary more quickly.
Length of EmploymentIf the position is for a defined term, rather than at-will, you might want to try to negotiate a longer contract. Alternatively, you might see if the company is willing to guarantee contract renewal for meeting specific performance goals.
Vacation TimeNew hires often get little vacation time and sometimes must even wait out a probationary period before they can take any. If vacations are important to you, you may want to try to get some additional time. You might also try to substitute extra vacation days for higher pay if the salary is non-negotiable.
Start DateNot all positions necessarily require an immediate start date. If you would like to take some time off between jobs or just want to get settled into a new city before starting work, your new employer may be flexible on your start date.
Relocation ExpensesNot all companies pay relocation expenses, but if accepting the offer means moving and the company did not offer this benefit upfront, ask about it. You may be able to get your new employer to cover items like:
- Travel expenses related to finding a new place to live
- Cost of movers
- Hotel and food expenses, or rent, until you find a permanent home
- Assistance selling your current home
- Assistance for purchasing a new home
Signing BonusesSome companies offer a lump-sum payment to sweeten the deal. If they don't offer relocation assistance or can't offer a higher salary, they might be willing to give you a signing bonus.
Fringe BenefitsMany benefits, like health insurance, are usually not negotiable. Others may offer some leeway. Depending on your position, you may want to ask about:
- Use of a company car
- Company credit cards
- Stock options
- Profit sharing
Only negotiate with one company at a time, starting with your first choice. Competing offers may provide some leverage if a company really wants you, and it is acceptable to mention them. Once you've completed negotiations, the company may send you a revised offer letter with the new terms. If not, write an acceptance letter in which you restate all the terms, both those you negotiated and those you did not change.
Finally, contact any other companies that may have extended an offer to you, sending a polite letter declining the job. You may not need them now, but you never know what the future holds.