Preparing for and Negotiating a Job Offer
by Cathal McAliskey
Job Interview Preparation
In the current IT market, software developers change jobs roughly every 2 years, so it is extremely important to be well equipped in dealing with offers and hiring processes. Before entering interview processes, I would recommend doing these 2 things:
Research the market
On a daily basis I speak with developers who don’t understand their worth within the Irish market. Without proper research you risk representing yourself below market rates. I would recommend candidates look at websites like Glassdoor and Indeed to see what the Irish market is paying for their skillset and experience.
Checking out 2022 salary guides can be a great way to understand industry salary trends. Here is GemPool’s 2022 Salary Guide. Once you’ve finished your homework, I’d advise speaking with a specialist recruiter within your industry, they can give you more insights on what they are seeing in the current IT market and help you set realistic expectations.
Be clear on expectations
Once you’ve completed your research it’s important to be clear on what you are looking for. You must consider what it is you are looking for in a new job or why you are looking to leave your current position. Based on my previous experience of working with candidates in the industry, I would recommend that you select a 10K salary range rather than a salary figure.
For example, if I set my salary expectations between €60-70,000 I’m saying the minimum I would accept is €60,000 but if I really impress during an interview process I could aim for closer to €70,000.
Another quick note is that companies hate when candidates change their expectations throughout an interview process, however, if you have a salary range you can just aim for the higher end if a position is less appealing after the 1st round interview. Being clear on your expectations will allow the offer process to be a lot more seamless.
Top 10 Things to consider when you receive an offer:
Give yourself some credit
In the current IT market receiving an offer is no mean feat, so pat yourself on the back. Treat this as an achievement considering the time dedicated to preparation and to the interview process.
Get a formal offer in writing
Don’t just take the word of a Hiring Manager or recruiter, ask to be emailed a formal letter of offer including base salary and benefits. By getting a formal offer letter you are getting a commitment that the company has budget approval whereas a verbal offer may not have been approved by their finance department.
Get some advice
Don’t feel like you must make the decision on your own, speak with family and friends. I would encourage candidates working with a recruiter to ask for their insights. From personal experience, recruiters will know how companies approach offers and can advise you on timeline, salary negotiation, and next steps.
Evaluate the job before the salary
If you were clear on your expectations at the beginning of the process, then you will be able to evaluate this role and make sure that it matches up with your non-financial goals.
I would advise candidates to compare the job they have been offered with their existing one to make sure it addresses their reasons for leaving. Company culture and work environment is an extremely important factor to consider.
Consider the full package, not just the base salary
In the current IT industry, benefits play a key role in the acceptance of offers. It is key that you understand the value of the benefits being offered. Consider these 2 offers:
€80,000 base salary + Bonus + Health care + Pension – Total €80,000 + ??? = ???
€80,000 base salary + 10% Bonus (10% of base salary based on individual performance) + Health care (1500 a year plan) + Pension ( 5% of base contribution)
Total €80,000 + €8,000 + €1,500 + €4,000 = €93,500
Package A is very vague whereas package B highlights that the values on offer equate to €13,500. So please ask for more details on benefits packages to get a better understanding of the full package on offer. I’d recommend asking about % of employee and employer pension contributions and how bonuses are judged e.g. individual performance, company performance, 50/50 split.
Other offers or interview processes
In today’s IT market it is likely that you will be in multiple interview processes or receive 1 or more offers. I would advise that candidates don’t just rush into their first offer especially if they are more interested in another position. You may be able to use an offer to speed up another interview process; however timing is important.
A company is not going to wait 2 weeks for you to decide on an offer while you complete 3 rounds of interview with another. Each person’s situation will be different, but my advice would be to be honest about the other interview processes, offers, timelines and preferred roles. When comparing two offers it is important to compare both roles, full packages on offer and company culture. Again, you don’t need to rush into this!
Dealing with an offer below expectations
It’s a difficult moment when you receive an offer below what you were expecting but it’s important to understand why. I would encourage all candidates to ask for feedback after each interview to get a sense of how they performed and if there were any red flags. Based on your final interview’s feedback you may be able to see an under offer coming so you can build an argument to address concerns.
If an offer is below your minimum expectations, it is important to raise this with the company to see if there is room for negotiation. Try to not take under offers as a personal insult, in most cases the company is benchmarking the salary offered with the salaries of the existing team members.
How to negotiate salary
As I said in point 3, seeking advice during an offer stage can be invaluable, particularly when negotiating salary. I would recommend if you were working with a recruiter to seek their guidance.
Recruiters will have much more experience when negotiating salaries than candidates so they can be a useful aid. In some cases, it may be better to ask the recruiter to negotiate on your behalf as they will likely have a stronger relationship with the company or hiring manager.
When negotiating salary, it is important to have a target e.g. 5k more. It’s also key to have a well-articulated argument on why you deserve that increase. You may want to highlight your value, argue that the offer is below market rates or explain that you have another offer at a higher salary.
If you receive an offer, it is crucial to get a timeline on when the company expects a decision. Now you have a window to think about the offer and company and decide on what to do next.
So, what are your options, negotiate, accept, tell other companies (maybe they can speed up their processes) or reject. If you are waiting on other offers it’s imperative to give a company an honest timeline, the last thing you want is for them to pull an offer because you took too long to decide.
You’ve just accepted your dream job and you’ve handed in your notice. Next day – BANG a counter offer, so what should you do?
First of all, don’t immediately accept or reject the offer, take a few things into consideration. Firstly, why are they only offering you this now?, why does it take you handing in your notice to prompt this pay rise?. Do they value you? or would you leaving cause them a problem or cost them a lot? Secondly, have they addressed your reasons for leaving – culture, progression, old tech stack.
Finally, how will things play out if you accept, will they treat you differently?, Will they lose trust in you?, Will they see you as a flight risk? These are crucial questions to ask yourself to see if taking a counter offer makes sense. In my experience I’ve seen very few counter offers turn out positively, with many of the candidates back on the market within 6 months as their concerns resurfaced once again.
Each person’s offer-stage experience will be different, but I hope these points will give you some food for thought. In the current IT market, there is such a demand for talent that candidates face the dilemma of multiple offers, offer negotiation and counter offers on a regular basis.
My advice would be to work closely with a specialist recruiter who can advise you along the way, give you market insights and help you obtain your dream job. If you require any more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Why not check out our jobs page for your next exciting opportunity.
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