How to negotiate job offers


When job-hunting, you may see a great role advertised but worry that the money isn’t quite right, or that the job says full time when you really want a four day week. Don’t be put off! If the role is a good fit for your skills, go for it. Then put your negotiation technique to the test further down the interview process.

The main thing is confidence and knowing why you deserve more. Ask for more money or flexibility when you can show your worth: if possible, prove you’ve got results in the area you work in. And remember, it’s all in the delivery – stay calm and don’t get emotive!

Here’s our step by step guide to getting what you want - and bear in mind these tips can work for full time roles as well as for part time!

1. Choose your moment. If you are worried about rate or working hours, the second interview is probably the best point to raise these issues. But sometimes you are more likely to get what you want at the point of offer. You need to trust your instincts on this: assess the character of the person (or people) who are interviewing you. Good timing can make all the difference whereas bad timing could mean you’re shown the door.

2. Once you receive an offer, respond with enthusiasm and thanks. Ask for verbal clarity on what’s been offered. If you are happy, accept. If you have any doubts, explain that you need to think about it and carefully give your reasons. Agree a mutually convenient time for you to get back to them.

3. Do your research: look at similar jobs in the marketplace and see what your role is worth. Appreciate that the market rate is likely to be lower if you are applying for work at a charity or social enterprise. Remember part time jobs will be advertised at the full time rate, but you will be paid pro rata. Find out if your potential employer uses bandings or grades – you don’t want to price yourself out of the market.

4. Many employers will look at what you earned in your previous role and base their offer on that, so check whether you earned at least the market rate. If you didn’t, you’ll find it harder to negotiate and you’ll need to arm yourself with good reasons why your last job was underpaid and why you deserve more now.

5. If you are looking for a shorter working week, read the job spec carefully and consider if you can achieve what’s expected of you in less time. If you have good experience in this area, work efficiently and have good support, it may be that you can do the job in less days – or at very least work one day at home. Many employers will be happy to consider extra flexibility for the right person.

6. If you are currently employed elsewhere, never hand in your notice on a verbal offer. Always wait until you have the offer in writing.

7. If you decide to decline an offer, give your reasons constructively – you never know whether or not you’ll need that door to be open for you in future.

8. If you’re applying for jobs through a recruitment agency, be completely honest, open and up front with your recruiter about what you want – it is in the recruiter’s interests to get the job fit that is right for you and s/he should be able to negotiate on your behalf.

Negotiation isn’t easy. It takes courage to ask, confidently and calmly, for what you want – especially if you’ve been out of work a while, or if the economic situation makes you feel lucky just to be offered a job (especially true if you're being given flexible, part time work). But – even if you don’t get what you want - most employers will respect you for asking. The majority of employers say they will consider flexible hours for the right candidate (even if they don't advertise the position on these terms).

Have you ever negotiated a better deal for yourself when securing a part time job? If so, we’d love to hear from you – you could inspire others to action! Please share your story on our Facebook page, get in touch with us via Twitter or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

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