Written by Jo Dakin

You’ve gone through all of it. The grueling process of application, interview, second interview and received the holy grail of employment seeking–the job offer. Now that you’ve been offered the job, how confident are you in your ability to negotiate your own future?

The employment offer comes to you and you’re always excited. That’s especially true if you’ve been out of work for more than a week or two. Don’t let your excitement blind you to the fact that now, you have to negotiate for what you’re going to take away from the offer. This includes salary, perks, insurance, sick days, vacation days, whether you work from home or office, car or cell phone allowances, laptops or computers and anything else that you can think of.

In the initial rush of excitement it doesn’t seem as if it will make that much difference. You may be inclined to take what they offer and to walk away. The reality is that a dollar an hour or a thousand dollars a year can make a huge difference in your overall income over the course of even ten years with a company. A computer or laptop offered by your employer may save you several hundred dollars.

The negotiations may take place via mail, email or in person. However they happen, it’s important that you keep them open, honest and that neither person leaves the table feeling like they’ve been taken advantage of.

That’s what makes it so important that you know the score and that you speak your mind and let them know exactly where you stand and what you want from your contract.

Do your legwork. Know what you’re talking about before you begin the negotiations. Research the company or talk to people who have or are working there to find out typical salaries. Look at local area salaries for like positions and use those as a median range.

When you are making specific requests about salary or contract, tell them that you’ve researched the salaries that are given in your area and in your field. Request a median salary from the findings of your research. Most negotiators or hiring managers will see that as reasonable and not just a number plucked from the air. You’re more likely to see the request granted that way.

Be willing to compromise, but don’t do so on something that you really need. Insurance may be a requisite. Family policies, if you need them, are something that you can’t compromise on. Stand firm and be assertive about those things that you really have to have for future security. In the end, if you didn’t ask for it, you’re not going to get it.

The overall goal is to get a happy medium that you and the company feel is fair. If you walk away from the negotiating table feeling as though you’ve been taken advantage of, you can’t blame them, you have to blame yourself.

Get a package that you can live with and nail down every aspect of it politely and positively. Once you’ve accepted it, live with it. You can’t complain about a contract that you laid out and had every opportunity to refuse.

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