Job offer negotiation tips for finance professionals
"Know what you want to get what you want"
As finance professionals progress through the recruitment process, there will come a time when remuneration is discussed with a prospective employer. For many candidates, this is a conversation that fills them with dread:
- If you ask for a salary that is on the low side, what does this say about the value you place on your experience and skills?
- If your expectation is too high, will you rule yourself out of the running for a position that would otherwise be perfect for you?
As recruitment specialists, candidates often ask us about the protocol of discussing remuneration and whether an offer made is likely to be negotiable. While the answer is likely to be different for different employers, there are some general points that hold true across all negotiations.
Should I negotiate salary after an offer has been made?
A candidate (let’s call her Mary) was recently offered a job as a management accountant at a large real estate investment management firm. She liked the firm and the position offered. She felt that it offered her the right challenge at this point in her career, and she also felt that she would fit in well with the team with whom she would be working.
However, she felt that the wording of the offer indicated a ‘take it or leave it’ offer that fell a little short of expectations. She wanted to know whether the offer would be open to negotiation, or if she would be wasting her time trying to do so. If it was the latter, she wondered whether she would then be best to reject the offer and continue her search for a career move.
What is it that irks you most about the offer?
When an offer is made to a candidate, if the offer disappoints it is our experience that there is often an underlying reason why. It is rarely ever solely about the salary. This was the case with Mary.
While Mary felt that the salary offered was on the low side, and only a little above the salary she was paid by her current employer, when we discussed the offer in more detail with her it became clear that there were other reasons she felt disappointed.
Because she had been with her current employer for several years, she benefitted from an enhanced holiday package which gave her 28 days paid holiday each year. The job offer that had been made to her stipulated that she would only receive 25 days paid holiday.
Mary was also a mother to two children aged nine and 12. Her current employer was accommodating to her needs as a parent. She worked one day each week from home, and she also benefitted from flexibility in working hours to allow for her parenting role. She had discussed this at her second interview and was under the impression that similar arrangements would be made in her new role. However, the offer letter did not make this clear.
Summing up, Mary felt that the salary offered didn’t fully compensate her for the holiday days that she would be losing and for giving up some flexibility in her work routine.
What is it that you find attractive about the new opportunity?
There are always reasons for someone wishing to move from their current employer. While salary may be a contributory factor, it is rarely the sole motivator. In Mary’s case, she had become stagnated in her role. There was little opportunity for promotion. Her work had not changed much during here time with her employer, and training and development was restricted to the required CPD only.
As her children were growing older now, Mary felt it was time to take on a more expansive role. She wanted to become involved in different projects, have more variety in her role, and benefit from opportunities for self-development, adding to her professional qualifications, and with the possibility for promotion based upon her performance. The new employer offered her all of this.
Summing up, there were outstanding reasons for Mary to accept the job offer, but also reasons that she felt she should reject it. She felt that if she could get another job offer, she may be able to force a review of the salary offered, which would compensate her for fewer paid holiday days and the lack of flexible working.
What is most important to you is most important to an employer
Our first advice when you receive an offer is to think about what it is that you really want from a move. The fact that you have received an offer is an indication that your prospective employer believes that you will be a good fit. During the interview, you will have established the common ground between you: what is important to you is important to the employer.
In Mary’s case, the fund management company recruiting wanted a new hire who could contribute to all the team’s projects. They were advertising their accountant job with the desire to expand their own portfolio of competency, with the drive to take on more challenges, and the soft skills to work across functions within their firm. Professionally and culturally, the fund management company and Mary were a great fit.
While Mary’s inclination was to try to get another offer and use it as a bargaining chip to increase the offer from the fund management company, this would be the wrong course of action. It sends the signal that what is most important to you is the money, and that you may not be the perfect fit they thought when they made the offer.
The offer may be negotiable
In many cases, even if the offer letter appears to make the offer non-negotiable, there may be room for some movement. However, it is folly to make a negotiation all about the money.
When negotiating after the offer has been made, it is critical that you consider what it is that you really want, and what it is that is most tempting about the role. Consider the synergy between you and your prospective employer, and then make your case by highlighting the positives you will bring to the role and the team.
Where you have worked with a specialist recruiter, do discuss the offer with them. They will have a good understanding of the client and the flexibility they may or may not have – this knowledge will help you negotiate a favourable outcome. In Mary’s case, that included confirmation of the flexible hours and remote working routine that she desired from the role.
To benefit from a confidential discussion about the opportunities to shape your future, contact Macdonald & Company today and connect with us on LinkedIn.