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Should You Negotiate Your Offer? (Episode 168)
Many blogs, books, and LinkedIn posts advocate negotiating the initial employment offer. Their advice sounds well-intentioned and thoughtful on the surface. They assume the company needs to provide a better offer, is holding back, and wants the candidate to negotiate. These resources provide the questions and statements to ask that will help the candidate earn more base salary, signing bonus, and potentially more vacation. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned advisors do not explain the risks of negotiating. When a candidate negotiates an offer, you are essentially turning down the initial offer and asking for a different one.
For 23 years, I have advised military officers on transitioning well into business. Transitioning well includes earning and accepting an offer professionally. When these officers bring up the idea of negotiating an offer, I first want to understand their reasons. If their primary reason is that is what they are being advised or read, I explain to them the downside before they start a negotiation. I explain that they would essentially be turning down the initial offer. There is a potential that the company could not just decline your request but withdraw the offer. I have not personally seen that happen, but I have heard companies consider it.
Put Yourself in the Hiring Manager’s Position
Take a moment to imagine this scenario where you are a hiring manager. You just interviewed this top-notch junior officer. You want this person on your team. You go through the appropriate approvals requesting a specific base salary, bonus potential, and benefits. You have just expended some of your professional capital to get this offer approved. You are excited to make this offer to the candidate you like. Now, you present the offer, and the candidate asks for $10K more, five more days of vacation, or a signing bonus. How would that make you feel? Probably not as excited about the candidate anymore. The relationship is not as strong as it once was.
Negotiating with Multiple Offers
Sometimes candidates want to negotiate offers if they have multiple offers pitting one offer against another, essentially trying to get the companies into a bidding war. My recommendation is that if they are close, do not do this. Hiring and human resources managers do not want to do this. Sometimes, I support a candidate in asking for additional compensation if two offers are wildly apart; and his or her favorite company is the lower offer. The candidate can go to the company and say, “You are my top company, is there additional consideration on the compensation?” This gets the conversation started. This is another critical point; if they deliver on a higher level, there is an expectation that you will accept. You asked, you received, and now you have to give back—quid pro quo.
Do not negotiate an offer with companies that are not your top choice. Be professional. If you negotiate, you are telling the company they are your top choice. What if they respond positively and you decline the offer? No harm, right? You are not going to work there. Wrong, small world; the business world is even smaller. Be professional and protect your brand and the brand for military officers entering business careers.
Negotiating and working with a Recruiting Firm
You should not have to negotiate if you are working with a recruiting firm like Cameron-Brooks. The recruiting firm should work with the companies before they start the interview process to advertise and deliver their best offers. Are there times Cameron-Brooks’ candidates negotiate? Occasionally, but it is rare because the companies advertise compensation and benefits packages before they interview, and when they offer, they deliver on those ranges. Cameron-Brooks clients know that hiring candidates who come through our program is competitive. They do a lot of work before the interview process to present their best offers to the officers at the end of the hiring process.
Want to learn more about negotiating offers as a military officer entering a business career? Listen to the full podcast. I go more in-depth on all of these points.
If you’re interested in learning more about your transition options, contact us.
You can also check out our Transition Guide on “3 Game-Changing Strategies for JMOs Making the Jump to Business” for additional transition tips.