Many candidates often get too far ahead seeing themselves doing the job, and don't enter the interview process with the notion that entry to doing a job is through a job offer. And this is something we all have to learn. Boris Groysberg, professor of business administration at Harvard Business Administration, offers the following the advice in the HBR blog titled, "Accept the Job Offer or Walk Away?" that professionals today better develop a skill to evaluate job offers since they are likely to be changing a jobs every three to four years.
You may be asking that how can I bring up the job offer without first demonstrating the value you show can to a potential employer? My answer is that you can only deliver value after you are hired; if you are not delivering value, the employer is not going to keep you around. Hence, use the job offer to find out what the employer thinks of the job and what they value since employers are the ones with the offer to give. You want to start with the end.
Why bring up the job offer early?
A job offer is a business transaction. And in any business transactions, you want to know very early what is the price you are willing to accept for your services. Many advise that you must demonstrate value so the company will see it and make an offer commensurate with your experience. Companies are the ones with the offer, not you. If they don't give you a rough idea of what the offer looks like, then you may be wasting a lot of time. You don't want them to dangle that carrot and make you go through hoops to get the carrot if they think you are a good fit. I suggest you not give this much power to a potential employer. Bringing up a job offer does not commit an employer to giving you a job, so you should not compromise on this issue.
Though you may have come across a common advice that employees should look at other things besides compensation, but according to the HBR blog titled,"What High Performers Want at Work," the top two contributors to job satisfaction in the study performed by SAP with Oxford Economics were competitive compensation and bonuses and merit-based rewards. Since you are also probably looking for the same things to be happy at your job, so why not bring up job offer early, so it is not a show stopper at the end. You want to know early whether to pursue a job or not.
Negotiation is uncomfortable to many of us, especially when we are the product; however, to be successful, you have to negotiate early and often, otherwise you may be leaving money on the table or accepting a job that you may hate later and be soon be looking for another job. To avoid this, negotiate strategically from the beginning, meaning that you start with the job offer and use the interview process to make it better so you can accept it. When you finally get the job offer, there should be no surprise. If you negotiate early and often, then there will be very little to negotiate at the end of the interview process. In fact, you don't want it to go to the end and have to reject the job offer since you will have spent a lot of time, energy and money.
If you are uncomfortable or not good at negotiating for yourself, then my suggestion to my clients is to get a good career coach who will be involved from counselling, coaching and helping you during the interview process as part of your 360 degree review of the job. If an employer is going to do that to you to make sure you are the right hire, then why shouldn't you do the same to make sure if the employer is right for you.
Example of How Negotiation Pays
I remember few years ago when a client came to me who was close to accepting a position as a doctor at a medical clinic. The clinic was going to pay him salary and bonus for three years and then make him a partner. He was going to accept the offer since the offer was good, and he wanted to quit where he was practicing. I told him that the offer was not that good and asked him to make a counter offer to be made a partner after one year since he was being offered a partnership where he was working. The clinic came back with two years. I told him to hold firm and if they resist then settle for 18 months. But he did not want to push the clinic any further and accepted the offer. That negotiation from being made a partner after two years was worth $400,000 to him. (Unfortunately for me, I did not not charge him percentage on the money he made from the negotiation.)
Companies don't like to talk the job offer early since they want to have control and have multiple options from which to choose. What you want is to be the only option and want to know whether you want to move to the next step based on whether you are getting the job offer or not. If the job offer is not coming up in your conversation with the employer, then you are not getting it. Companies know very early on who is getting the offer. They keep others around to negotiate with their first choice, and if you are not their first choice, they are not likely to offer you the job; they may start the entire interview process again. I have observed this myself and also talking to my clients who have interviewed with companies like Amazon, Oracle and IBM since so much time goes by that things change and the position may not be needed to be filled.
(Again, if you are not up to asking these uncomfortable questions, then I suggest you leverage a career coach do it for you.)
What does the job offer look like?
There is nothing wrong with this question. If the employers are playing a game (and lead with the assumption that you are playing a game), then you just exposed them and won since you don't want to play a game where you don't have a good chance to win. You want to know how competitive is your compensation and whether it specifically includes bonuses, stock options and rewards.
What do I have to do to get this job offer?
This question is to find out what do they want to see during the interview process so that you don't end up wasting a lot of time.
Who else are you considering for this job offer?
Tell the employer that you like competition as long as you know with whom you are competing. If you are the only candidate then the job offer is yours to lose. You want to know whether the competition is internal or external. From my experience, it is hard to beat an internal competition or someone that is referred by someone high up inside.
Have you made the job offer to anyone? If not, why?
You don't mind competition as long as you know it exists and where you stand. Do not assume that you may be facing both internal and external competition. If you are facing an internal competition, then your chances are probably not going to be good in getting the job, based on my experience.
When do you need the job offer accepted by?
You want to find out if this hiring is time sensitive or not.
What happens if you don't make the job offer to anyone?
If there is no pain in not hiring, then they can drag this process out for a long time.
Why should I accept your job offer over others?
Use this question to sell the employer on why you should choose them over other options you are considering.
Why People Don't Ask These Questions Regarding the Job Offer?
People are afraid to get rejected early. But if you are afraid, then you are not likely to get the job. My feeling is that you are probably better off to get rejected early than getting rejected late. Either way, you don't have the job offer. In life, whether it is someone you want to approach for a personal or business relationship, the number one fear we have is rejection. To overcome this, come up with a game where you win if you try and lose if you don't try. Rejection is not something you control, so don't self-reject yourself.
You do not want to waste time if you are not getting a good indication that you are going to get the offer. Often it is better to walk away unless you want to continue to get more practice interviewing. And if you are not needy, it is no big loss.
Lastly, if you are not going to get the job offer, never lose it on employer's terms, lose it on your terms. That's a win that will give you confid
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