Negotiate Better Job Offers with This Twelve-Point Checklist

You've been through an employer's interview process successfully and have now been extended a job offer. And you think the offer could be better. If that's the case, read on to find out cutting-edge strategies that'll help you negotiate a better deal.

1. There's no need to accept the offer on the spot. Do express your appreciation for their offer and ask how long you can take to make a decision. Use that time to prepare your approach. Remember, they need you just as much as you need them. Come from a position of strength and confidence.

2. Be clear on your priorities -- know what's critical to you personally and what's not. Based on this, define your deal-points and deal breaking points. This should not be limited to your salary.

3. That brings up this important point -- negotiate more than just the salary. Maybe things like extra days of vacations, certain types of expenses you want taken care of, flexible working hours, etc, based on what's important to you.

4. Be yourself. Don't try to adopt a negotiation style that's not you. Don't try to be overly cooperative if you are aggressive by nature, or vice versa. Conduct the negotiations keeping in mind the industry, the position and the person you're negotiating with. Always be tactful and considerate -- rudeness has no place in any discussion.

5. Be patient and willing to hold out for what you deserve. The whole process may require more than one meeting and could take several weeks. Don't rush it. Also, be willing to walk away from an offer (unless you're unemployed and in a desperate position). That's a tried and true tactic that often brings results, though you should be prepared to lose the offer if you do use this approach.

6. When it comes to salary, don't be the first one to name a figure. Of course, employers usually make an offer first. If you are asked what salary you want, try to redirect the discussion. Say that you'll look for a salary in line with what's typical for such positions and that you'd like to discuss the offer as a whole before coming to specifics on money.

7. If the employer is not willing to go along with that approach, then quote a range. Say that you're looking for something in the 80s or 90s, but the exact figure depends on the position, benefits and other factors.

8. Take care of fringe benefits. They can make a very important difference to your overall financial position and quality of life. Look at things like medical insurance, relocation expenses, stock options, paid parking, health club membership, etc.

9. Do your homework before you go in to negotiate a job offer. Know what salaries are typical for your position. Also, do your math correctly. You might find that earning an extra $10,000 might put you into a higher tax bracket resulting in lower take-home pay. Look at additional expenses the new job would involve -- relocation, more expensive commute, etc. Do this preparation beforehand; it's very unlikely that you'll be able to think through everything while in the thick of negotiations.

10. When trying to negotiate a higher salary, state your current salary grossed up for all bonuses, commissions, benefits that you receive. Don't limit yourself to just your pre-tax salary.

11. Be flexible. Negotiations are about give and take. You might have to concede some points to gain something that's valuable to you personally. This is another way of saying 'play fair'.

12. Stick to the truth. Exaggerating your qualifications, work experience, current salary, etc, is risky -- it is quite likely that the employer will find out and then the job offer may be retracted. You may even be fired from your job if they find out after you join them.

Ann Wilson is a successful business author who writes extensively on jobs and careers. Her articles include best tips for interviews, answers to tough interviewing questions and many others with cutting-edge advice on interviewing.

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