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Negotiating for the best job offer

Esther Schindler | Aug. 25, 2008
The higher you are on the job ladder, the more successful you'll be in your salary negotiations.

FRAMINGHAM, 22 AUGUST 2008 - You've just been offered your dream job with your dream employer, and the salary looks good, too. Should you just sign the employment contract-or is there more negotiating to do?

According to new research from, you absolutely should negotiate for a better deal. Don't be shy! Most IT professionals surveyed by give the prospective employer a counter offer. Our research shows that job seekers do well by asking for more, too; most of them find that employers will meet them at least part way, if not give them everything they ask for.

Almost everybody-94 percent of respondents-typically negotiates when considering a job offer; only 6 percent say they typically accept the first compensation package offered. When people didn't negotiate, usually it was because they were satisfied with the initial offer, or because they didn't feel they had a choice. "I was badly in need of a job at that point in time, so I did not negotiate for any benefit," wrote one respondent.

But there's at least two ways to ask for more: You can be very specific, identifying exactly what you need before you sign that employment agreement, or you can vaguely ask for more ("Can you do a little better than that?"). Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents say that in a typical situation, they outline specific requirements, while 35 percent negotiate without specifying exact requirements.

Being specific in job negotiations pays off. Nine out of ten respondents (92 percent) who outlined their specific requirements said the prospective employer met their requirements at least partway, and they accepted the job. When the negotiation was vague, 83 percent said the company met the requirements at least partway, which was good enough for the respondents, who accepted these offers.

The higher you are on the job ladder, the more successful you'll be in your salary negotiations. You're also more likely to know what you want. Respondents in more senior IT management positions tend to be specific in setting job requirements and to have those requirements met. Sixty-eight percent of IT executives typically outline their specific requirements, compared to 53 percent of IT managers and 48 percent of IT staff. Nearly all IT executives (93 percent) report their offers were met at least partway, compared with 89 percent of IT managers and 78 percent of IT professionals/staff. IT executives are also more likely to have their requirements met than lower-level respondents.

What's typically on the table? Unsurprisingly, money is at the top of the list. Salary (83 percent) is the most common item for which respondents negotiated in their last job offer. Bonuses (56 percent) and extra vacation or time off (48 percent) are also frequently cited. (See table for more.) Men are significantly more likely than women to negotiate stock options (26 percent vs. 13 percent), while women are more likely to negotiate flex-time (36 percent vs. 23 percent).


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