How to evaluate and negotiate a job offer

partners-pictureBy Lt. Col. Paul Capicik (USAF, Ret.), VP Military Affairs

Two important parts to the job offer process are evaluating what the potential employer is offering and negotiating the terms of the job offer. You will likely increase your new employer’s respect for you and start your new job with an invigorated attitude if you prepare yourself for:

  • typical questions that can come up
  • the type of latitude that is acceptable
  • do’s and don’ts of a successful negotiation strategy.

If you do this wrong, you can end up settling for less than what you think you’re worth, or worse, losing the job offer altogether because you asked for too much. Here are some foundational tools to begin your preparation for this critical final stage of the transition process.

Evaluating the Offer

You need to be prepared to discuss the job offer even before you participate in any interviews. But because much of the research needed to examine a job offer is the same as you need for your interview preparation, you can save time and effort by knowing ahead of time what you will need to consider when an offer is made.

Many things can affect job satisfaction, so think about these things beforehand and prepare yourself to evaluate what’s important to you:

  • Your financial needs. Know what you need to survive, what you need to be comfortable, and what your reasonable dream salary would be.
  • Comparable salary rates. You will bring various skills and experience to the table that are applicable to the job in question. Research what those skills are worth in the market (a salary range).
  • Duties and responsibilities. Determine your understanding of these from the job description, but also from industry standards so you can verify them when you’re offered the job.
  • Benefits. This category can often make up 20-35% of the value of a job offer.

o Health plan (medical, dental and vision)

o Profit sharing, bonuses, merit increases, stock options, 401K

o Vacation (or pay in lieu of vacation)

o Tuition assistance to advance your training and education

  • Work environment. With what type of boss, peers, and company culture can you flourish? More importantly, know what can you simply not accept, so you can ask appropriate questions about this job’s environment
  • Prestige and advancement. Learn what your job title means, how salary advances and reviews work, and what your promotion potential could be in this company

Then there are other things to consider, too, like travel requirements, commute time, telecommuting options, moving expense, etc.

Negotiating the Offer

Rarely is an initial job offer exactly what you need or want. If you have done your homework on the company and industry standards, and also prioritized what your needs are, now is the time to negotiate for modifications. If you don’t ask for changes now, the likelihood of getting them later is slim to none.

In negotiating, you will have two main concerns: 1) trying to determine what is negotiable, and 2) putting you request in respectful, justified terms.

For instance, salary is often something you will want to negotiate, but in some companies, salaries are based on a set schedule and the job position. If this is the case, asking for a higher salary is a waste of time (and can even show that you didn’t do your homework in researching the company.) Instead, in this situation, because of your skills or experience, it may be appropriate to ask to be hired at a different skill level or job title, which would allow for a higher salary level. Again, just make sure you provide justification to ask for a higher salary or the level change.

Showing your value can help your cause

Usually, the benefits category is where you’ll have the most opportunity for negotiations. By showing how a particular benefit can make you more valuable to the company, how it builds on your experience or a skill you already have, you can often tip the scales in your favor. The tuition assistance benefit is a good example for this.

As long as you can tie your job offer modification request to justifiable reasons, such as your proven abilities, industry standards, or how it helps you help the company’s bottom line, you stand a good chance in making reasonable gains.

Rarely will such requests result in the employer withdrawing an offer. Showing that you are thinking about meeting employer goals and objectives by advancing your skills and experiences will help convince an employer that you are a valuable hire – a person who considers self-improvement and the company’s well-being important factors in the accomplishment of your duties and responsibilities. This helps them feel good about selecting you for the position.

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About American Sentinel University

Named a Military-Friendly School by GI Jobs and Military Advanced Education for the third year in a row, American Sentinel University offers outstanding military benefits for service members, spouses and veterans, including reduced tuition rates, an expansive transfer credit policy, no-cost books for active-duty, and personal support for the unique military lifestyle. American Sentinel provides accredited, quality Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs for high-job-growth industries, combining the flexibility of its100% online platform with dedicated personal support. Programs include IT, computer science, GIS, nursing, business intelligence, management, and IT industry certifications.

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