Negotiating a compensation package is a wonderful problem to have! Don’t let your euphoria at being offered a job make you over-eager to accept it. Let these principles guide you:
1. Get it in writing. Compensation packages contain many elements that have a direct impact on your life. Don’t leave it to memory or misunderstanding.
2. Take time. Warmly thank your interviewer for the offer and ask for a few days to consider the offer. Many people worry this will seem aloof or ungrateful, but it demonstrates you are taking the offer seriously and allows you the necessary space to consider your counter offer.
3. Do your research. You may have done some salary research before now. If not, use the time you asked for to see what benchmarks are. Be sure to include variables such as location, institution, and experience level. Fire up the Internet and pick up the phone to find the most accurate information.
4. Understand your priorities. No two people are the same and salary is not the only factor. Is insurance an important consideration for you? Does time-off trump retirement plans? How does their offer stack up to your ideal?
5. Ask specific questions. When you finally come to negotiating, don’t ask broad or vague questions such as, “is the offer negotiable?” Based on your priorities, inquire about specific aspects of the package. “When are salaries revisited?” Be thorough as you seek to understand. Ask follow up questions, such as, “What are the criteria used when evaluating performance?”