Negotiating the employment contract when starting a new job can be an uncomfortable process. We explain how to negotiate a job offer and prepare yourself in order to the best strategies in the negotiation.
How to negotiate a job offer: preparation with the employment contract
The employment contract is one of the key tools in how to negotiate a job offer. Before you start negotiating your employment contract, you should prepare well. In this way you can avoid forgetting important points and putting yourself in a better position in the discussion. If you have already received the employment contract for review, read it carefully and make a note of points which are unclear to you or which have not yet been addressed. If you have not yet received the working draft, have it sent to you before the negotiation.
As an important part of how to negotiate a job offer properly, give yourself time to consider the contract and to think about the individual points. Even if your future employer has given you a certain amount of time to sign the contract, don’t let yourself be pressured. If you are unsure, go through the employment contract with an expert such as a specialist lawyer or a trade union.
Don’t be afraid to raise concerns about key points in the contract during the negotiation. Prepare for the interview and write down exactly what you want to address and what is important to you. Go into the interview with confidence, but compromise beforehand which ones you are willing to accept. Also learn How to ask questions in a job interview.
How to negotiate a job offer: What things can you negotiate?
These points can be negotiated in the employment contract, and are the ones that you can address and discuss in your employment contract negotiations.
- The salary is one of the points that is often not addressed in the employment contract. You have a right to do so as a step in how to negotiate a job offer. If you are not satisfied with the size of the salary that you are being offered, don’t be afraid to bring this up in the negotiation.
- Working hours are also very important for employees. These are often decisive for how satisfied you will be in your future job. Discuss in conversation if you are not satisfied with the overtime regulation , the organization of working hours or the number of vacation days.
- In addition, when going through the steps of how to negotiate a job offer, it is important to know exactly your duties, i.e. your area of activity. In the interview, make sure that you and your employer are clear about what is expected of you and what your responsibilities are.
- You can also negotiate benefits in the employment contract as part of how to negotiate a job offer. Points can be a subsidy for fitness clubs, benefits in kind such as fuel vouchers, kindergarten subsidies or co-payments for additional insurance.
How to negotiate a good starting salary
Use these tricks to negotiate a good starting salary in the interview. Regardless of whether you are just starting out on the career ladder or want to improve yourself as an experienced specialist in the course of a job change – sooner or later the question of your future income will come up during the interview, and is the one people focus on most in how to negotiate a job offer. This is where you need to give salary expectations.
No need to be nervous. With good arguments and healthy self-confidence, you can get the most out of salary negotiation.
- Good arguments and healthy self-confidence are important for a successful salary negotiation
- Salary negotiation is like a game with certain rules that you should know about
- Excessive demands are just as counterproductive as false modesty
- In addition to the salary, use possible additional benefits as an important bargaining chip
The interview goes well, your counterpart makes it clear: You are convincing professionally and personally. But then it gets exciting again, because it’s about the money. If you are applying as a trainee, in the public service or at a company that is bound by collective agreements, the matter is relatively simple: the trainee’s remuneration is usually fixed in advance, and for employees in the public sector and for companies that pay according to collective bargaining agreements, the salary is derived from your qualifications, position and number of professional years.
Otherwise, however, negotiating skills and full concentration are required: You should set yourself an income target, the HR manager or your future boss, on the other hand, probably have a limit on what they can and want to offer you.
Out with it: bring up the salary topic
Once all the technical issues have been clarified, it gets down to the nitty-gritty: the salary. Both can take place in the course of one or more application rounds. Either way: Usually the employer is the first to talk about earnings, possibly with the question of your current income when changing jobs.
In order to maintain a strong negotiating position, you should respond diplomatically – for example by giving an approximate order of magnitude (“I now get this or that amount a year”), or with a phrase such as “I have earned above average since I paid mine current employer successfully implemented the projects we talked about earlier ”.
If the person you are talking to keeps you hanging for a long time, it is entirely permissible to bring the subject up on the table yourself. With this you demonstrate self-confidence, maybe you want to test it. You will find an elegant transition when talking about working hours, overtime or vacation regulations. Or by asking in a friendly manner whether there are any further technical questions unanswered.
In any case, a sure instinct is important: If you talk about money too early, you give the impression that this is your main interest. But if you wait too long, you will appear insecure. give the impression that this is your primary interest. But if you wait too long, you will appear insecure. give the impression that this is your primary interest. But if you wait too long, you will appear insecure.
“What would you like to earn with us?” Your potential new employer will open the negotiation in this way or similar. It is a wise move not to respond with a specific number, but to name a lower and an upper limit. Does the HR manager accept immediately? If you went bad, then you sold yourself below value. But if he weighs his head thoughtfully and would like to know why, then you are on the right track. Now is the time to come up with all of the good arguments you gathered while preparing for the appointment. Ideally, you throw the following knowledge into the balance:
- You know your market value. For him, training, type and scope of professional experience and demonstrable successes are decisive. It pays to have coveted specialist knowledge or to represent a particularly sought-after job profile. Foreign language skills and management experience also have a positive impact.
- You have found out about the usual salary structures for your desired position: Studies and reports from recruitment agencies, professional associations and the business press offer a lot of clues – they can be found on the Internet.
- You know about the economic environment of your dream employer: flourishing companies can shoulder higher expenses than troubled companies, large companies in metropolitan areas pay better than small or medium-sized companies in structurally weak regions. Boom sectors such as the automotive industry, chemicals, consulting, finance, IT, pharmaceuticals or marketing and advertising offer particularly good earning opportunities.
- You are familiar with common objections: “You still lack experience” or “Our budget does not give you that”. You can counter every such contra argument with several pro arguments and you also have compromise proposals as a bargaining chip in the quiver.
When it becomes specific
For career starters as well as for skilled workers, excessive salary expectations can mean the end when applying. If your demands are too low, on the other hand, you put your light under a bushel – this indicates a lack of experience or low self-esteem and arouses suspicion. But if you convince your dream employer of your commitment and your performance and show that it is worthwhile for him to hire you, you will be successful financially with a clever negotiation strategy. Do you want to achieve a ten percent salary increase in the course of a job change? This is within the normal range – suggest a little more to gain room for negotiation. Are you thinking of 20 percent more than the average pay for a comparable position? Attention, if there are no special reasons for this, the pain threshold runs here! In a particularly favorable negotiating position, you are in a position that has not been terminated and you are being poached from. Those who are looking to return to work after a break or who have to apply from unemployment may first have to make concessions.
Salary alone is not everything
You can only spend what you actually have in your pocket at the end of the month. If you know how much that should be, you can use an online salary calculator to determine the gross amount required for this – your income tax bracket and possible tax exemptions are important. Many companies pay more than twelve monthly salaries, often thirteen, in exceptional cases even more. If you should define an exact number during the negotiation, it is best to state your desired annual gross amount.
The term “salary poker” is no coincidence. The negotiations run like a game according to certain rules. There is a lot of haggling, but you will win with the necessary ounce of luck and a good feeling. Surveys of HR managers have shown that many degrees are below what you would have been willing to pay – so don’t be too timid. On the other hand, if you let yourself be negotiated down from $80,000 annual gross to $60,000 , you will not appear credible. If the conversation reaches a dead end, benefits granted by the employer in addition to the salary can help out.Tips on monetary benefits can be found here.
Go for the feel-good factor
How happy and motivated one is to work for a company is not only measured by the remuneration – many other factors play a role. Are you allowed to work from home? This saves travel costs and helps to reconcile work and family. The same applies if you are allowed to take more paternity leave than is legally allowed, or if part-time is an option. Ask what training measures are planned and funded. And if, after a long period of successful work, you can also be granted a sabbatical if you wish, you will have been really well received.
When should you reject a job offer?
Why should I turn down a job? A legitimate and important question, because you have written an application to get an interview and then a job. It seems contradictory to decide against it after everything seems to have gone according to plan. Still, there are actually some good reasons to turn down a job after successfully going through the application process, and this is also a part of how to negotiate a job offer — because you need to negotiate the rejection. There are several reasons why you might reject a job offer:
You choose another job.
When looking for a job, you usually not only have one application, but contact several companies at the same time. In the best case scenario, you can get several commitments and find yourself in the pleasant situation of being able to choose the job that best suits your ideas. That always means that you have to turn down another job – with the good feeling behind you that you will still complete a successful application phase.
You don’t see any opportunities in the company.
The position for which you are applying is usually not intended to be the last stage in your career, but rather a stepping stone to take the next steps on the career ladder. A project that cannot be implemented in every company. Missing perspectives can sometimes already be recognized during the application process or during trial work. If you have higher goals in the long run, this can be a good reason to turn down a job.
You hardly get any relevant information.
Some HR managers can talk a lot without actually saying anything. During the interview at the latest, you should have a precise picture of the position for which you have applied. What are your tasks, who do you work with, what is expected? If a lot of important information is missing, unpleasant surprises can arise later in the job.
The application process is unprofessional.
You have to wait forever for answers, appointments are postponed again and again, nobody feels really responsible, the job interview seemed spontaneous or unorganized and you had to wait three weeks for the promised employment contract? Errors and misunderstandings can occur, but if these accumulate and shape the overall impression, this can be a warning sign, as it happens in a company every day.
The employer has a bad reputation.
You applied full of euphoria and were able to convince with your motivation. However, you will hear more and more information that puts the company in a negative light. Many former employees vent their frustration on the Internet, and the conditions can even be heard in the media. When an employer has such a bad reputation, caution is always advised, as it was not without reason.
Rejecting a job: open your eyes to the employment contract
There may also be one or the other detail hidden in the employment contract that could draw your attention. Because the written version of the document does not always correspond to all the things that were agreed during the interview. That could be a coincidence, because a mistake was made during the creation – or unfortunately the many promises were nothing more than hot air.
Regardless of whether you it is working from home, entitlement to vacation or even the amount of your salary – if the employment contract does not deliver what the company promises, you should not simply sign it and agree to it. Ask immediately and if no clarification is possible, turning down the job may be the right decision. Building an employment relationship on a sham is likely to only lead to further problems.
Rejecting a job: risks and opportunities for applicants
Flippant or ambiguously worded rejection can be misunderstood and one or the other HR manager and managing director could react angrily to it. For you as an applicant, this poses a risk that should not be underestimated. Important personalities in companies are excellently networked in most industries and exchange ideas.
If you leave scorched earth and a bad impression at a company, this not only reduces your future application opportunities, but can also affect existing job offers. As a rule, they are not withdrawn, but in the new company you may then be received with skepticism and are under observation. Not ideal starting conditions.
However, if you can diplomatically reject the job , completely new opportunities open up. With a well-done job rejection, you can …
- Lay the foundation for further applications or a later change to the company.
- Prove your professionalism .
- Make sure that you can work with the company in later problems – for example, in projects.
- Learn a lot for your career planning and later job search. The latter is especially true because you will have to carefully consider rejecting a job and deal with a few essential questions. The most important: why do you want to refuse the job?
Another offer can certainly be better. But that is not a sufficient explanation. The real explanation is hidden in the question: What does better mean for you personally?
- Why do you find another offer more attractive?
- Which factors influence your choice?
- What’s missing from the job you’re about to turn down?
- Is it the company or the exact position?
If you can answer these questions honestly, you have already laid the foundation for a compelling, but most importantly, positive rejection. Bring your arguments, thank you for the time and attention, and look ahead. With the knowledge gained, you can adapt your further career planning and know even better which jobs and positions really suit you.
Other job offers are not an argument to offer!
If you want to reject a job because you have another, better offer, does it makes sense to justify the rejection by mentioning the other offer? No! The statement: I have another job offer is used far too often as a pretext or, even worse, as leverage to get better pay.
The person you are talking to in the company cannot know whether the reasons are real or whether you are trying to initiate the salary negotiation. If you actually have another offer and therefore cancel, you should explain this reason. For example, it could look like this:
… I have accepted a job offer in which I can optimally implement my ideas about XY. The decision was not easy for me in view of your excellent offer. I hope for your understanding and thank you for the trust you have placed in us.
It is crucial that you make it clear in your rejection why you have chosen the competing position . This makes it clear to your interlocutor that you do not want to negotiate and that you have real reasons for your rejection.
Rejecting a job: Please pay attention to this
There is an age-old principle in interpersonal communication: “The recipient makes the message.” If you turn down a job, this principle is of enormous importance. You can communicate with the best of intentions: if your conversation partner gets the wrong message, you have a problem. The best way to avoid a potentially harmful misunderstanding is to be open and honest about your rejection.
Clearly communicate your reasons for the rejection , don’t make excuses, and get to the point. In order for this to work, we have put together a few tips that will keep you in good memory despite the rejection:
Reject the job in a timely manner.
Many companies do not reject other applicants until the chosen candidate accepts the job offer. The longer you wait with your rejection, the longer other applicants have to wait – and the more difficult it becomes for the company to inform another applicant in good time. In addition, the company usually needs the new employee urgently. Therefore, it is only fair if you turn down the job in a timely manner. Even if the company took its time in the application process.
Refuse by phone.
Sure, email would be the easiest and often you will need to make your rejection in writing so that the company can document the process. But initially you should phone the HR manager responsible and tell him or her personally why you are rejecting the job. This not only makes the rejection more personal, you can also clear up any misunderstandings immediately and see whether you are making a good impression.
Show your appreciation for the company.
In order to make the best possible impression, you should not only reject the job, but also be responsive to the company. If you make it clear what you value about the company – and show that rejection is not easy for you – it usually has a positive effect. You should be able to find positive aspects of the company without any problems, after all, you applied there not so long ago for precisely these reasons.
Offer further contact.
This tip is a little bit situational. For some companies, the conversation ends very quickly after your rejection. However, others will still be interested in you. With the latter, you can offer to stay in touch despite the rejection and possibly also network with your conversation partner on Xing or LinkedIn. Of course, this step only makes sense if your new employer doesn’t mind and there is no rivalry between the companies.
Stuck in a job you should have rejected? Learn how to quit your job the right way.