Job Offer Negotiation Tips During the Pandemic

Our job offer negotiation tips during the pandemic involve viewing your career from a long-term perspective, thoroughly researching job opportunities, and looking beyond salary in offer negotiations.

By Katie Shonkon / Salary Negotiations

job offer negotiation tip

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many jobseekers have concluded that if they are lucky enough to be offered a good job in a tight market, they lack the power needed to negotiate better employment terms. In fact, a silver lining of the crisis is that it has created new opportunities to negotiate. With the coronavirus throwing the world into a state of upheaval, hiring organizations have become more open to negotiating arrangements that would have seemed unconventional just a year ago, such as requests to work from home or take your career in a new direction. The following job offer negotiation tips can steer you in the right direction when you’re considering how to negotiate a job offer. By taking a broad, long-term view of your career, you can maximize your job satisfaction and likely your salary as well.

Job Offer Negotiation Tip #1: Do Some Soul-Searching.  

During the pandemic, many of us have had more time than usual to think about how satisfied we are with our jobs and our careers, maybe because of a layoff, reduced workload, or the lack of a commute. When the hustle and bustle of commuting, business trips, and social events are stripped away, jobs are boiled down to their essence, and employees may find themselves feeling disengaged and dissatisfied.  

Whether by necessity or circumstance, many people are thinking more about their long-term career goals, seeking job offer negotiation tips—and contemplating bold moves they might not have considered before the pandemic struck, such as going back to school or pivoting to a new career. This type of soul-searching can be a critical first step before you plunge into a job search; it can also set you up for more effective job offer negotiations later in the process. When you have a strong sense of what you want out of your life and your career, you’re more likely to end up in the right place—and to negotiate harder to meet your goals and aspirations.

Job Offer Negotiation Tip #2: Do Your Research. 

One of the most common mistakes jobseekers make is to inadequately prepare for negotiations. Before interviewing with an organization, try to gather as much information as possible about the organization’s business and industry, your likely role, and the type of offer you can expect.  

To gain such information, mobilize your network, advises Simmons College professor emerita Deborah M. Kolb, coauthor (with Jessica L. Porter) of Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins into Big Gains (Jossey-Bass, 2015). Kolb recommends identifying anyone you know who works for the hiring organization and asking them how it is weathering the pandemic. Have there been significant cutbacks, or is the organization thriving? Would you likely work from home or be expected to be at the office? Insiders may also be able to help you frame your skills and experience in terms of the organization’s needs. 

Your research not only will give you an edge during the interview process but also put you in a stronger bargaining position during a job offer negotiation. 

Job Offer Negotiation Tip #3: Look Beyond Salary. 

Another common mistake job candidates make is to assume that job offer negotiations should center primarily on salary negotiation tactics. During tough economic times, when many organizations are struggling financially, it’s particularly important to look beyond salary negotiation tips by including a host of issues in your job offer negotiations. Obvious issues to negotiate include benefits, such as health insurance, employer contributions to retirement funds, and sick leave. But there are other ways to think outside the box and maximize your long-term income and career satisfaction. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Harvard Kennedy School professor Hannah Riley Bowles and Pepperdine Graziadio Business School assistant professor Bobbi Thomason note that it may be especially important for women to look beyond salary when negotiating or evaluating a job offer. Research has found that the gender wage gap is “explained more by differences in men’s and women’s career trajectories than by differential pay for doing the exact same job,” they write. As a result, “Negotiating your role (the scope of your authority and your developmental opportunities) is likely to benefit your career more than negotiating your pay and benefits does,” according to Bowles and Thomason.

Justify Your Requests

During the current health and economic crisis, it’s particularly important to justify your requests, according to DePaul University professor Charles E. Naquin, coauthor (with Rutgers University professor Terri R. Kurtzberg) of The Essentials of Job Negotiations: Proven Strategies for Getting What You Want (Praeger, 2011). If you are unemployed, frame your job offer negotiation around the going rate and perks of such positions rather than on your current (lack of) salary. 

What other job offer negotiation tips would you add to our list?