8 Questions to Ask When Negotiating a Job

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So you got a job offer, great, the work is done. Right? Wrong. Getting a job offer can be incredibly exciting, and definitely something to celebrate. However, it’s important to not get so excited that you miss the opportunity to negotiate an aspect of the offer, or that you sign a document/contract without reading the small print. Here are eight questions that you should make sure you ask before you accept that new offer.

How are employees reviewed and how is this tied to your salary?

This question will let you know what you to expect in your time at this job and what you should negotiate up front, as well as when you might be able to open conversations about negotiations again. Sometimes as well if a company isn’t open to budging up front, but if you know you are reviewed in six months and there is potential for raises, growth, or bonuses, then you can have a better idea of your financial forecast while at the company. If you know that raises are tied to your performance then from day one make sure your goals are set out with your manager and you understand what it is you need to accomplish and achieve, also ensure you have regular check-ins with your manager to make sure you’re on the right track.

What’s negotiable in the job offer?

Often the first thing we look at and consider is the base salary, however, understanding the entire job offer is important. It’s also important to understand what parts of the job offers are negotiable and what aren’t. Knowing this will allow you to focus your time on the negotiation in an area that’s actually negotiable rather than wasting your time on an aspect of the offer that isn’t going to change.

What’s the fiscal year for the company?

Many companies have different fiscal years from a calendar year so understanding what that fiscal year is will give you a good idea of when the next window for negotiation or a raise will be. For example, if you start in January at the beginning of their fiscal, it’s likely you won’t be reviewed or have the opportunity for an increase for a year, versus if you start half way through their fiscal. That gives you a bit of leverage to say, “Since it will be more than a year until I’m eligible for a salary review, I’m hoping we can start with a slightly higher initial salary.”

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Can you send me employee benefit costs?

When evaluating a job offer it’s important to look at the benefits you are receiving along with your salary such as your health insurance, vacation time, and other perks. It’s also important to understand the costs that may be associated with these (if any) before getting into it. For example, your benefits package may cost you a certain amount of money each month off your paycheck in some places, and in others it may just be a “free” perk of working there. You may get paid vacation time, or unpaid vacation time, knowing this will help you evaluate the total cost of your benefits on top of your salary.

What are the vacation days and policies for this offer?

It seems odd to bring up taking vacations when you haven’t even started a job, but this can be an opportune time to ask. Plus, you need to know the details of being able to take vacation prior to accepting a job, or if you can even take vacation at all. Some places don’t let you take vacation days until you’ve reached a certain amount of months at the company, others don’t offer paid vacation or have limitations on times of year you can travel or take time off. What about rolling over unused vacation days into the next year, or earning more vacation days the longer you’ve served at the company. Also, will you be working overtime hours at all? Can you bank those hours for additional pay or vacation days? Knowing these things is important. You don’t want to get into a job, book a trip with your family, only to find out you can’t get the time off.

What would other employees say about the company?

Current and past employees can tell you a lot about a company, and can give you a good idea of what it’s really like to work there. A good question to ask the hiring manager, or even other people you may know that work there is what employees would say about working there. Now obviously they’re going to paint a good picture, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can meet some of your team before starting or go for coffee with your potential boss. You can almost tell when someone is painting a pretty picture or isn’t happy in what they’re doing. Alternatively, you can check out websites like Glassdoor and read anonymous reviews from past and current employees.

What are the professional development opportunities?

When accepting or considering a job offer it’s important to think about your growth as a professional while in the company and the role. Not only will this opportunity help you grow professionally but will the workplace provide you with opportunities to continue your learning. Asking about professional development opportunities can be very important to a job offer, especially for those looking to grow in their careers. Find out if they provide any reimbursement for courses, conferences, workshops, etc. you may want to take. The expense of these alone can be huge, so consider that in the job offer if it’s something the company offers.

Ask for everything in writing.

You may have a lot of back and forth and different conversations with a hiring manager so make sure that you record the conversations and what is agreed upon in your formal job offer and contract. Although an employer may seem trustworthy, you want to have proof incase they go back on their word. A written agreement will bind you and your employer, and hold them accountable. Verbally having a conversation doesn’t count as proof in case there ever is an issue down the line.

What do you think you should make sure to ask before accepting a job offer?

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