So you’ve convinced HR your resume is awesome and you’re extremely qualified for the job you’ve applied for. You’ve interviewed with your future boss, impressing him not only with your experience and maturity, but also your sensible appearance. Now comes the tricky part—the job offer. Take note that before this, it would only seem presumptuous to try to discuss compensation and benefits at an earlier stage. Even though it's a standard inquiry during interviews, it’s best if the interviewer be the first to bring it up and if you do not commit to anything during the preliminary interview stage (see our article on job interview blunders).
The job offer can seem like a power struggle; while the ball is in the HR person’s court, you have the option to steal it. Usually, the process starts with a meeting in which the company’s HR representative presents you with the job offer. It is normally one to two pages long and indicates your compensation and other benefits: health or medical support, meal allowance, gas allowance, car plans, and the like; these and other relevant details will be discussed with you.
Note: Do not hesitate to ask questions if anything is unclear to you. You should also make sure that you learn about the benefits you earn after your probationary period, if these are not made clear to you. For example, will there be increases, and if so, how much?
After the offer is presented, you will be given a few minutes to think it over. Here are a few things to consider. Simply click on a heading to learn more about it or keep reading!
- Contemplate on compensation
- Benefits are part of your price tag
- Research: Forewarned is forearmed
- Take charge
- Saying no vs. thinking it over
- Be prepared
- Get it in writing
Compensation is also called basic salary and normally is given as a gross (before taxes) amount. At this point, think about whether the offer has a substantial difference from your previous compensation. Also consider how you’ll be spending it with the new job—for example, if it’s farther away from your home than your last job, you may run into extra transportation expenses that may nullify a raise in pay.
BENEFITS ARE PART OF YOUR PRICE TAG
Go through the list of benefits; these may “sweeten the deal” even if the difference in basic pay is not too high. Try to assess carefully if the benefits they are offering are things you consider benefits for you; if the company is flexible, you might be able to convert some of these to cash as part of your compensation instead.
Some benefits can be considered add-ons to your mental figure of what your compensation works out to be because they let you use company funds for something you’d otherwise be paying for yourself. A transportation allowance or gas card is a great benefit: that’s less of your own money coming out of your pocket for getting to and from work. Some companies will also reimburse phone bills or pay for your home Internet connection.
RESEARCH: FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED
Before even applying for a job, do your research! This means not only looking into what responsibilities or office culture you may expect, but also compensation and benefits. To give yourself a reasonable or realistic idea of how much you should be making, keep yourself aware of economic factors—not only within the industry, but also locally and globally, especially when applying for a multinational company. You should also get a benchmark of industry rates—talk to people who are or have been in similar positions. Now, while it is improper to ask someone how much they make point blank, you can ask for a range or an idea of how much to expect.
Ask yourself: is there a market for people in your field, or can work be difficult to come by? Also, try to get a feel of how "desperate" the company is. If there's a lot of competition for a position that does not need to be filled immediately, then perhaps you might want to keep this negotiation process as short as possible. Job openings that are hard to fill and considered urgent, however, will give applicants greater leeway when it comes to stating their asking prices.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)
The company sits in the driver’s seat throughout most of the job application process. However, the job offer gives you the opportunity to take the reins. When discussing your job description, try to listen carefully for the unspoken realities of the job. Will there be a lot of overtime or traveling? Does the team seem to be understaffed? Once these are made clear, you of course will be asked whether you would be open to working under these conditions.
Saying yes right away puts the power in their hands, but you can hold off and use the expected responsibilities as leverage for salary negotiation. Instead of saying yes or no outright, you can express the possibility of taking on versus delegating these tasks or maybe defer these for further discussion and negotiation. For example, working longer hours may mean you don’t get as much time with your family; that may be an opening to negotiating for a company car and gas allowance so you can drive to and from work instead of taking a longer commute.
In addition to this, when you are asked for your expected salary, you should name a definite figure to start negotiating, usually on the higher end of what you're hoping to get, balanced by what you know of the job's responsibilities. Giving a range (for example, asking for between P25,000 and P30,000) will frequently have the company immediately starting out with the lowest number you provide. However, always make it very clear that you are open to negotiation.
SAYING NO VS. “THINKING IT OVER”
After assessing the responsibilities against the compensation and benefits, you may think that perhaps you’re worth a bit more. Saying no or not agreeing to the offer could open the door to further discussions or negotiations; however, in the chance that you aren’t worth as much as you think, this could also be the end of it.
If you have a good idea of just how much you are worth to a potential employer, you may want to let yourself be courted a bit more by doing the song and dance known as pakipot. This means asking for time to think things over. By doing so, not only are you actually buying yourself time to think things over, but you are also giving the company time to try and take control of the situation by making the next move. This can and often does translate into a better offer.
There is an element of risk in any courtship—whether romantic or professional. In the same way a suitor would lose interest if he felt he was being led on, a company won’t hesitate to drop you like a hot potato if they feel you aren’t worth the time and effort it would take to open up further negotiation. Preparation is always key, so make sure you’ve thoroughly thought things through and have readied your questions and requirements before even walking into the job offer meeting. This makes the decision process go much quicker.
GET IT IN WRITING
Lastly, before agreeing to anything, you must be sure to have everything in writing. The idea behind a contract is beyond trust—it is assurance. This protects both you and the company and is an added guarantee that you will both live up to what you've agreed to in terms of work and compensation.
It is important for you to be sure of what you’re trading in for higher compensation. Once both of you agree to the terms of your employment, you each would have to deliver on your ends of the bargain or face breach of contract (and a potential lawsuit). Remember the idea behind the whole process is not to win against the company, but rather to bring about a situation in which both you and the company benefit.
(Photo by Dominik Gwarek via sxc.hu)