4 strategies to use when negotiating a new job offer in 2021

  • If you’ve been given a new job offer during the pandemic, take time to consider the overall compensation package.
  • Be ready to prove your value to an employer when negotiating for higher pay or additional benefits.
  • Understand that negotiation is a compromise, so don’t take low offers personally and stand up for what you’re worth.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

After a year full of swift changes to our working lives, where flexibility was demanded and anxiety was handed out in generous doses, most working professionals are looking forward to brighter days ahead in 2021. In some cases, we’re looking for a brand new job that will be more fulfilling, more lucrative, and more exciting. But just as the pandemic has shifted many aspects of how various industries function, it’s also impacted hiring and onboarding. 

Now more than ever, employees need to weigh the overall compensation package they’re being offered, and make sure they have a complete understanding of how office policies may shift once COVID is behind us. For example, will you still be allowed to work remotely, work a flexible schedule, or have your home internet or gym membership paid for by the company? It may be that after having spent an extended period of time working remotely or unemployed, your priorities have shifted. And to win your dream job offer, you’ll need to exercise the fine art of negotiation. 

We spoke with career experts to better understand 2021’s best approach to job offer negotiation. Consider this your 101 guide. 

1. Know — and own — your value

First things first: before you can go to battle for what you want in this job negotiation, you need to have a firm understanding of your value. And most importantly, you should be confident in what you bring to the table. Teresa Sabatine, an empowerment and leadership coach, says because it’s a competitive job market right now and many talented people are on the job hunt, having confidence in your abilities is a critical component of getting the gig. In other words, you’ll need to fight imposter syndrome like your job depends on it. (Because it does.) 

Sabatine recommends asking yourself these questions: 

  1. What have I done to drive business results in the past?
  2. How did I make an impact?
  3. What is unique about me that helped me drive those results?
  4. How does that experience and success translate to the role I am applying for now or that is on offer?

Once you have your answers, back ’em up with stats and proof. “It’s important to have that data and rely on it because when we are in actual negotiations and interviews, we can get in our heads and forget what we bring to the table,” she said. “The people negotiating with you are hoping you know what you are talking about; they want you to be good at what you do and know your value.”

2. Get clear about post-pandemic changes

One of the trickiest parts of new job offer negotiation in the current landscape is all of the unknowns. Right now, you’ll be expected to work remotely, but what happens in a few months when offices reopen? Will you be required to come in every day? Do you want to commute again? If you’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, does the company offer a stipend for your office setup? If not, do you need one — and should you negotiate for it?

When you have an offer, it’s essential to ask specific questions about tactical aspects of the job that are pandemic-specific, according to Christine Cruzvergara, the vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake.

“Explore whether there is a difference in compensation if you’re remote — do they have a philosophy on that, and what it might mean for your pay in the future?” she recommended. “Are there benefits or flexibility that you require in the near term, such as special equipment or unconventional hours, that you want to include in your negotiation? Not only will specific answers help you understand the terms of the negotiation, but it will also make you seem detail-oriented and clear in your communication.” 

3. Know your points for compromise

You’re not going to get everything you ask for in any job negotiation, but to give yourself the best shot at walking away happy, Sabatine recommends exploring what matters the most to you, what wiggle room you’re comfortable with, and pinpointing your non-negotiables. Just keep in mind that there’s much more to consider than just your paycheck.

“Businesses may be having to tighten budgets, which means they might be offering non-compensated compensation to get great talent. Maybe they have upped the equity stake you get in the company. Maybe they are offering really flexible work hours in exchange for lower compensation, or there is an option for a robust bonus structure,” she explained. 

For example, if your goal was to make $150,000 annually, but a company you love is offering you $105,000 per year to work your ideal job, Sabatine suggests asking yourself what might make up the difference. If the company would offer you a four-day workweek, would that be enough?

“Is it worth that loss in compensation because it means you get to be with your kids or you get to pursue your side hustle?” she added. 

4. Don’t internalize the job offer negotiations

Repeat after Sabatine: Negotiating a job offer is all business. All too often, people — women especially — shy away from asking for what they really want out of a job because they don’t want to appear greedy, or as if they aren’t thankful for the opportunity. If that sounds like you, it’s time to shift that line of thinking and remember your worth and what you deserve.

“You are not lucky to be offered a job; you are talented and have something to offer in exchange for payment,” she said. “It’s important to understand the role, the market value compensation for that job, and the results you can get for that company.”

When an offer comes, state what you would like to make, then await the company’s next move. No low-balling yourself, no back-tracking, just confidence. You are worth every penny — and then some. 

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