You’ll never have more bargaining power than you do before you accept a new job. One of my clients, a senior digital marketer in the technology sector, was looking to make a career move to a different sector and was open to moving countries too. He’d presented a strong CV focused on his key strengths, transferable skills and demonstrable results in previous roles.

As a result, following a series of interviews, he was offered three different opportunities in three different countries! But herein lay his next challenge – which job should he accept?

One of the most common mistakes people make is to accept the highest salary offer on the table – or the first one. Don’t. Negotiating a job offer isn’t just about money. It’s about finding the best win-win deal for both you and the employer.

Negotiating a job offer isn’t just about money. For most people, negotiating a job offer is both exciting and very stressful. Exciting, because it means that you may have landed yourself a job! Stressful, because if you’re like 90% of the population, asking for money and negotiating a compensation package makes you very uncomfortable. The fear of sounding greedy, selfish or arrogant lies at the bottom of many people’s discomfort with compensation negotiation. Add to that the fear of losing out on the job offer altogether!

However, remember that negotiating a job offer is consultative – a two-way conversation – and your success relies on preparation and practice.

So what are my top six rules for jobseekers to follow to successfully negotiate the best possible compensation package?

  1. Be able to speak with absolute confidence about what makes you the best person for the role. You must know your core competencies and be able to support your case by demonstrating your successes, showing quantitative or qualitative outcomes. Be very clear in your mind why you applied for this role.
  2. Recognise what’s happening in the industry in terms of salary and benefits within the company you’re interviewing with or similar companies in that sector. Do your research: use Google, Glassdoor, annual reports, and network with individuals in the same sector. The best way to find out what it is like in a company is to speak to people who work there. Job boards are also a great way to compare similar roles, salary levels and compensation packages.
  3. Create a solid, detailed plan and consider your strategy. Why do you want the role? What’s really important to you when it comes to work? How much money do you need to make to pay your bills? For example, is it location, flexibility, holidays, pension, training, maybe even the commute? The more prepared you are, the better equipped you will be when it comes to the negotiation.
  4. When receiving an offer, thank the employer and express your interest in the position. Do not accept that offer immediately. I recommend asking for the offer in writing, which gives you time to reflect and consider the offer so that you make an informed decision. Read the offer in full and highlight any questions so you’re prepared to lay that as the foundation of your negotiation conversation. Whenever possible, try and do your negotiation in person; you’ll get a better feel of the situation by studying their body language.
  5. Keep in mind what is important to the employer when negotiating. Remember, your aim should be to create a win-win for both of you. Reinforce your interest in the company goals and how your experience can help them reach those goals. Be positive and upbeat and consider all options. Salary comes from a fixed pot and often there’s not much room for movement so look at other negotiable areas. These include transportation costs, car allowance, signing bonus, mobile working, flexible hours or additional holiday.
  6. If you reach an impasse, and realisation dawns that they are unable to meet your requirements, or you decide the role is not right then be positive, thank them for their offer, display a professional approach and decline saying you are sorry you are unable to accept. You may even be able to recommend someone else in your network that might be a better fit!

What happened to my digital marketing client and his three job offers? Working closely with him, he successfully achieved the compensation package he wanted and started a new adventure in Singapore and in a completely different sector. Proof that you can achieve a significant career change if you employ these proven negotiation tips.