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How to Handle Recruiter Pushback During a Salary Negotiation

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated March 3, 2020

Negotiating a higher job offer is the goal of every job seeker at every level of employment. Everyone wants the most money they can get for the hard work they will be doing for their next employer. 

The work to increase your offer starts way before the offer arrives. You need to lay a solid foundation in order to successfully negotiate a higher offer.  To set this stage for success, you have to know:

  • What to do before the interview
  • What to do during the interview 
  • What to do after receiving the offer

Once you implement these steps before the interview and during the interview, it will make what you need to do after receiving the offer easier to accomplish.

What to do before the interview to land an offer

Proper interview preparation will give you the most solid foundation for positioning yourself as the candidate to hire and lure over to the employer with a lucrative compensation package. To position yourself as this candidate, it starts before you go to the interview. 

First, write down your dream salary number that you want to land in making your next job change. Once you have this number in mind, the next steps will empower you to craft the achievement stories to build the case to near (if not at or above) your dream salary number.   But you must start with the end in mind. 

With your dream number in mind, next set a range of what you would accept in an offer. The bottom part of that target salary range should be a number that you will absolutely be happy accepting. No compromises. And if the offer came in a dollar less, you would turn it down. Having this range ahead of time will help you stay confident and objective when negotiating an actual offer.  

Research what people get paid who do what you do in the location of where you do your work (or where you want to do it, if you are relocating). You can do this research using Glassdoor's Know Your Worth tool

Synthesize all the information you find to come up with a salary range coming from your research. Compare this to your desired range.  Determine if your desired range is above, at, or below market based on your research. This will help you position your achievement stories.

Based on whether you are above, at, or below market for your desired salary targets, then write out your achievement stories to use on the interview. You want to be able to position yourself as worth the extra money based on your experience or a good value for what you bring to the table if you are below market.  (Side note: if your desired salary target is below market, don’t assume that means you have been underpaid or that it’s bad. Maybe your experience track isn’t as long or maybe you are looking to do a career change either of these scenarios could make you a more attractive candidate by leveraging that you aren’t as expensive as a competing candidate. It can get your foot in the door.)

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What to do during the interview to land the offer 

Armed with the relevant achievement stories and salary research, now is the time to position yourself through interview answers as the candidate to hire. 

Answer interview questions from the perspective of helping the company to see you bring a great return on Investment potential in hiring you for the salary you seek. Don’t come across as you are filling job responsibilities. 

Position yourself as a business partner of equal stature evaluating if this job opportunity is a good match for each of you. Many job seekers make the subliminal mistake of going into an interview as if they were seeking approval from the hiring manager. Don’t go into the interview seeking a stamp of approval.  Instead, approach the interview as if it were a business deal that has to work for both of you. This perspective will increase your confidence and improve your interview performance positioning you as a candidate they want to attract for their company. 

What to do after the offer arrives to increase your compensation 

If you apply the steps from #1 and #2, hopefully, you find yourself in the position of landing a lucrative offer that now you have the opportunity to negotiate to a still higher number. The key to succeeding is to do this in a way that builds the new employment relationship positively and makes everyone feel good. 

The main thing is no matter how good the offer is, for most people, it’s best to always negotiate something and not accept the first offer. Of course, if you have a really exceptional offer that is beyond your wildest dreams, it may be worth just saying ‘yes’ and being done with it.   I have actually recommended this occasionally to clients who received an out-of-this-world offer. But for most people, negotiating something is best for the simple fact that it shows the employer you don’t say yes to everything, including that first offer.  

To begin the negotiation, you need to compare where you are at with the new offer. First, break down the offer into its parts: salary, benefit quality and cost, retirement matches, education reimbursement, time off, etc.  Next, assemble the compensation breakdown from your current job.  Compare your new offer compensation (total and components) to your current compensation. 

With both sets of numbers, see what is better, same, or worse. Make a list of what’s the same or worse.  Decide what aspects (if not all of them) that you want to go back with a counteroffer reply

Once you have decided what you want to reply with as a counteroffer, then write your reply. Always thank the potential new employer for the offer presented and express excitement and gratitude.  Outline what aspects of the offer you would like them to consider increasing with your rationale (based on market research or based on what you currently have, etc.). Include what you would like them to increase that aspect to, as well. Thank them for considering the reply. 

You can repeat this last step as needed.  However, it’s important that in the end, the employer feels like they are making a great investment in a uniquely qualified candidate who will help them meet their objectives in making the hire. And you need to feel like you are being paid what you are worth. Starting with the end in mind helps you take care of you and addressing the employer’s goals along the way helps them see you as their solution.  

Lisa Rangel, Founder and Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes (a Forbes Top 100 Career Website), is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Job Landing Consultant & 13-year Recruiter. Lisa is also a paid moderator for LinkedIn’s Premium Career Group, which has 1,300,000+ members. Chameleon Resumes reviews the goals of each client to ensure career documents serve their goals while meeting the needs of the prospective employers. She has been featured in Fortune, Inc., CNN Business, Fast Company, Business Insider, Forbes, LinkedIn, CNBC, Time Money, BBC, Newsweek, Crain's New York, Chicago Tribune, eFinancialCareers, CIO Magazine, Monster, US News & World Report, Good Morning America, Fox Business News, New York Post, and other reputable media outlets. Rangel has authored 16 career resources and has created several tools to help in the interview and negotiation process.

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