This is “Why You Should Always Consider Negotiating”, section 10.4 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0).
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Many individuals shudder to think of negotiating, in any type of economy, never mind a down economy. That should not be the case, especially when you consider all the work the company has to do before they identify you, the perfect person to receive the job offer.
All the steps a larger company may take to fill an opening are included in the following list. Smaller companies may require fewer steps, but the detail listed here demonstrates the great amount of time and effort needed to find the right person to extend an offer. Once that person is identified, employers do not want to start the process over again, so there is some room for negotiation.
The preceding exercise demonstrates that once a company extends an offer to you, they want you to accept. If you would like a bit more in your salary, most companies will consider complying to ensure you accept, but some will not. If you would like a bit more in terms of year-end bonus percentage targets, they may easily decide to comply, but then again, they may not. If you are interested in a later start date, they may be open to that, and of course, some may not be.
It’s important to also remember that nothing is a given. In strong hiring markets, your chances are stronger to negotiate. But even in down markets, you still have leverage.
Also note that your base salary is a very important starting point at a company. Accepting an offer with a compensation level that is far below market value can be a tricky move as well, even if you are very anxious to get any experience you can. Your next employer may be very curious as to why your compensation level is so low, and it could add a red flag to your candidacy. Whenever in doubt, speak to a professional—perhaps someone in career services or a colleague in the field. For most opportunities, salary increases come just once a year and are sometimes skipped in down economies, so you could be “stuck” at a very low compensation range for a longer time than you would like. Getting a higher base when you begin can make a significant difference for many years to come. With that said, research is always a key point in the negotiation phase. Ensure you know the best starting point, and your negotiation will be more successful. Also note that if you are hired into a large company, with a formalized entry-level program, all hires receive the same exact compensation package, and there is no room for negotiation. You can still ask, but the answer may be no.