The answer may seem obvious, but actually this is a commonly asked question of job search candidates. The answer is: “not until you actually receive a firm offer of employment.” Trying to negotiate before the offer is given is too soon in the process and can sometimes work to your detriment. But, after you accept a position, it is too late. Once the offer is initially made, you know the company wants you and that is the only point where you really have some leverage.
Whenever you think the offer isn’t exactly what you are looking for, there are a number of areas that might be enhanced; however, most job applicants like to focus on improving the salary first. Usually benefits are a secondary consideration.
You should do some research about salary information prior to starting the interview process, and certainly in advance of receiving a potential offer. You can get some very basic salary range information on Salary.com by searching for data relative to your position title and geographic location. If you want more detailed salary information, ask this Interview Doctor collaborative about a particular job. We can help you find additional salary information. Keep in mind that there are differences in ranges based upon the type of industry. You might need to take a slightly lower salary with a new company depending on the competitiveness of the situation, or if you are accepting a lower level position within a new organization.
Medical/healthcare seems to be the most important benefit to most job search candidates. But often there is nothing to negotiate in this area; that is, many companies offer a plan and you have no option to negotiate relative to it. But, some companies do have options in health plan design, or a cafeteria benefits approach that allows you a range of options from which to choose.
Vacation is an important consideration to job applicants. You can sometimes get additional vacation time if you ask for it. Keep in mind that many companies won’t negotiate additional time off; it really depends upon the company’s hiring philosophy and their vacation policy.
The point is that you will never know if you can get it unless you ask for it – whatever it is: more salary, better benefits, additional vacation. If you don’t ask for it, you will always wonder if you could have enhanced the offer.
What would keep you from asking for an enhancement to your employment offer? Your comments and opinions are welcome; would love to hear your viewpoints.