In the August 4, 2015 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader wants more money.
How should I request a better offer than the one that was made? By phone? By e-mail? By regular mail? Do you ask the HR person, since that is who handles the offer letter in the first place? How does the give-and-take take place?
Almost everyone makes one huge mistake when asking for a higher job offer. They fail to justify the extra pay.
Want more? Prove you’re worth it!
If you want more money, you must explain why you’re worth more.
(By the way: Don’t waste your time quoting salary surveys. No survey includes the exact job you’re applying for, or your exact constellation of skills and attributes. You will always lose the survey game because any smart employer will respond with yet another survey that “proves” its offer is handsome! See Beat The Salary Surveys: Get a higher job offer.)
When negotiating for a better offer, the goal should be to engage in a discussion rather than to put a stake in the ground, unless you are absolutely sure your asking figure is firm. This allows the company to explore the money issue with you, rather than be forced to respond with a yes or no.
Ask the manager, not HR!
It’s critical to have the discussion with the hiring manager, not with HR. HR might control the hiring process, but it’s the manager’s budget that your compensation will come from. So have this discussion with the manager, in person or by phone. (I would not use e-mail. It’s too impersonal.) Try this:
Make a commitment
“First, I want to thank you for the offer. I want to come work with you.”
That’s a powerful opening statement because it resolves one big question for the manager: Does this candidate want the job? Once you’ve made this commitment, managers know it’s worth their time to work out the terms. Too often, job candidates try to negotiate money without consenting to the job itself. Bear in mind that saying you want the job doesn’t obligate you in any way. If the money can’t be negotiated to your satisfaction, you can ultimately turn the job down.
Now comes the most important part:
“I realize you have carefully considered how much you think this job is worth. As we discussed in our interview, I believe I can do this job [more profitably, more efficiently, more quickly, more effectively] by doing [such and such]. For these reasons, I believe my contribution on this job would be worth between $X-$Y in compensation. Of course, if I can’t show you why I’m worth more, you shouldn’t offer me the job. Are you open to discussing this?”
Deliver more value
The key element here is value: You must show how the added value you will deliver is worth more money. Employers love it when you reveal you have thought carefully about the work and how you would do it profitably. It shows you are motivated to make the deal a “win” for the employer.
But I will warn you: If you cannot explain exactly what you will do to perform the job more profitably, efficiently, quickly — better, in some way, than the employer expected — then you have no business asking for more money. This is not a negotiating game. It’s about exchanging fair value for fair value, and you must be prepared to explain it.
HR cannot have this kind of discussion with you, because HR will never understand the ins and outs of how you will add more value to a certain job. Talk to the hiring manager, and let the manager go explain it to HR.
(Don’t know how much to ask for? See How to decide how much you want. Once you figure this out, lay the groundwork for your salary negotiations early in your interview. See The most important question in an interview.)
Once you’ve said your piece, it’s up to the manager to respond and engage in a discussion. The manager may decline to discuss a higher salary. So, you must know in advance whether you will back off and take the offered package, or politely walk away from the offer.
Be the better candidate
The only way to approach salary negotiations is to grant the manager a concession: Clearly state that you want to work for him or her. Separate your interest in the job from the compensation, and the manager is more likely to negotiate terms with you.
“I’m ready to come to work, if we can work out the terms — the compensation.”
(For more about how to negotiate based on your value, see Fearless Job Hunting, Book 6, The Interview: Be The Profitable Hire and Book 9: Be The Master of Job Offers.)
There’s no guarantee about how this will work out. But, the better prepared you are to discuss how you will do the job better than anyone else, the better your chances of working out a mutually beneficial deal with the manager. The only way to ask for more money is to show the employer the money!
How do you ask for more money? If you’ve been turned down for more, why do you think you were rejected? Can you prove you’re worth what you ask for?