Work out a better offer

Successful negotiation can make a new job even more satisfying.
By Cheryl Meyer

Fear of rejection can cause job seekers to accept less-than-ideal terms. Negotiation takes courage and preparation, but it can make that new job even more attractive. Here are tips for successful negotiation:

Wait until you receive the offer to negotiate. "You don't want to go into the first and second interview and ask about negotiating," said Matthew Briggson, CPA, the CEO of Encoursa and author of The Accounting Interview Guide: An Insider's Guide to Acing Accounting Interviews. Instead, wait until the offer is presented.

Review the offer carefully. Instead of accepting the offer on the spot, take 24 to 48 hours to understand it, recommended Joseph Rugger, CPA, CGMA, director of finance and operations for Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory in Jonesboro, Ark. Review what the employer is offering and what other benefits you would like to negotiate.

Do your homework. Information is key, so do your research prior to negotiating. Check out the employer's website. Connect with people on LinkedIn who are former employees or who have job titles similar to the one you are considering. Determine if the offer is in line with industry standards for your level of experience. Find out if the company or firm covers CPE and CPA license fees.

Realize the differences between employers. The size of the employer offering you a job will affect which perks you're able to negotiate. For instance, small firms may offer fewer perks than larger ones but might make up for that in other ways—such as by offering more flexible scheduling.

Determine how the employer defines success. "The more information you can find out about this position, the more leverage you will have," Rugger said. Find out what the company deems important: What are the key performance indicators? For public accounting positions, how many billable hours are expected?

Avoid single-issue negotiation. Prioritize your top five benefits or perks outside of salary, and be prepared to say why they are important. Figure out what that bundle is worth monetarily, said Lisa Gates, an executive coach and negotiation consultant, and co-founder of She Negotiates, a career consulting and training firm. Then, identify your deal breakers. If you don't get what you want, be prepared to walk away, Rugger said.

Frame and justify your requests. If you ask to work remotely on Fridays, for example, note that your productivity for the company will be higher than if you work in the office. Or, if you ask for a gym membership, say you could save your employer future health care costs.

Be straightforward, honest, and reasonable. Nothing is out of bounds, but don't go overboard. "If you are a junior associate, you are not going to get a car," Gates said. "However, if you are constantly taking your work home, there is no reason why you can't ask for a computer."

Editor's note: This checklist is adapted from "Negotiate for More Than Salary When Taking a Job," The Edge newsletter, Jan. 19, 2016.

—By Cheryl Meyer (meyerwrites@gmail.com), a freelance writer based in California.

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