The 10x Commandments of Job Offer Negotiations for Candidates

If you’re looking for some job offer negotiation best practices, you’ve come to the right place. At 10x Ascend, we’ve helped negotiate job offers for candidates engaging with the likes of Facebook, Square, Google, HSBC, and more. Today, we’ll share some of what we’ve learned negotiating business deals over the past 25+ years.

While our specialty lies in tech negotiations (think software engineers, developers, coders, programmers, data scientists, etc.), the core principles of any successful negotiation remain the same. Thus we’ve collected 10 of our favorite job offer negotiation tips and created the following: The 10x Commandments of Job Offer Negotiations (for candidates).

The 10x Commandments are intended to help job candidates navigate their offers with ease and success. Whether you study them before negotiating, review them during the process, or even pass your negotiation off to experts like us, we hope these provide plenty of value as you pursue your perfect deal. Let’s dive in.

1. Thou Shalt Give a Range If Asked About Salary Requirements

What are your salary requirements? It’s an age-old negotiation question, often used by employers to understand if your expectations match what they’re willing to offer for any given role.

Our advice? Never pin yourself to one single number. Your salary range should be well-researched and well-reasoned. What is the lowest number you’d be happy to accept? There’s your floor. Now, what’s your reach? There’s your ceiling.

The range approach gives you options as the salary negotiation progresses. If the salary offer comes in towards the high-end of your range, you’ll be happy! And if it comes in at the low-end, they’re handing you leverage, which can be used to open up the discussion. For example, one might say, “Since the salary offer is at the very low end of my range, could we discuss improving the offer elsewhere? I’d be interested in additional equity or bonuses, for example.”

We’ve written extensively about the benefits of providing a range. For a more in-depth look, check out this post – specifically the section titled, “Develop the Right Salary Range.”

2. Thou Shalt Seek Multiple Job Offers

It almost never hurts to have multiple offers on the table when entering a job offer negotiation. Once again, it’s about creating leverage. Multiple job offers allow the candidate to compare salary offers, equity offers, bonus offers, PTO offers, and whatever else may be important to them.

With that information, negotiation becomes a lot more interesting. Instead of just arbitrarily asking for certain things in the negotiation, you can ask for the best parts from one offer that are lacking in another. With multiple offers featuring different perks, you suddenly have proof that other companies in the market value you enough to offer those perks.

Keep in mind that some companies do not like when candidates leverage other offers. There is an art to doing so – push too hard and you risk one employer saying, “Ok, then go work there if their offer is so great!”

Note that we’ve experienced some FAANGM companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft) outright asking about the exact package you’re being offered elsewhere. If you’re able to provide it, and the FAANGM company wants you, they’ll often match it.

3. Thou Shalt Know Your Leverage

Leverage comes in many forms and it’s a common theme in negotiation best practices. The important thing is that you have the perspective and wherewithal to know what leverage you bring to the table. This often requires one to think deeply – what are all the ways in which you have an upperhand?

Some often overlooked sources of leverage: 

  • The opportunity cost of leaving a portfolio of freelance business to join a company full time
  • Your fully on-boarded and trained status (for those negotiating with their current employer)
  • Being in a position where you’re willing to walk away (this is often the best way to improve a sub par offer from a FAANGM company in particular)
  • Requirements adversely impact your lifestyle
  • Credentials, accomplishments, certifications – all of which add to your value
  • Leaving a secure and stable job for the risk of something new

For a longer discussion on leverage, check out this post on the 6 top ways to create leverage in any negotiation.

4. Thou Shalt Focus on the Big Picture

When we think about job offer negotiations, most of us immediately think about salary. But a negotiation should never begin and end at just salary. There are many other factors that can add value to a job offer and should be contemplated.

We have written extensively about the dozens of opportunities that exist in any negotiation. If you need guidance on the breadth of areas you might consider taking your negotiation, a good place to start is with our Lifestyle Calculator. This tool breaks down 24 different items to address in a job offer negotiation. The idea is simple: everyone has a unique lifestyle, so your job offer and work situation should reflect this accordingly.

5. Thou Shalt Not Lie

It’s a losing game to lie in the job process at all. Regardless if it is about other job offers, your previous salary, or about your skills as a candidate. We’re all human, and the temptation to bend the truth exists for many. Our take is that this often does more harm than good; the truth will come out eventually, whether before or after an offer is made.

Note that lying is different than discretion, which is discussed in more detail in the next commandment. Lying in a job offer means sharing information that is fundamentally not true. Discretion means sharing only the information that needs to be shared.

6.  Thou Shalt Use Discretion

While lying is heavily discouraged, discretion is a different story. Take the example of having multiple offers on the table. If you use aspects of one offer to negotiate better terms in another one, that would be a wise move. But you probably wouldn’t want to share that although the salary offer was better in one offer, the equity offer was much worse. Pretty straightforward, right?

Strategically choosing which information to share is key to being discrete. In a live negotiation, it takes skill to tap into the right information at the right time. Remembering various details to share, when appropriate, helps create leverage. But it certainly requires you to be quick on your feet!

7. Thou Shalt Do All Possible In Writing

For those who like to take their time, or aren’t as confident in a live setting, email is your best friend. We’ve written before about the power of negotiating via email. It’s our view that this form of negotiation is very underrated. In most negotiations, there is little to lose by deliberating in writing – and as our post on email negotiations explains, there is a lot to gain. 

Perhaps most importantly, email negotiations allow your side to be heard with little room for misinterpretation. There are often multiple decision makers in job offer negotiations. In a live setting, you have no control over how information will be transmitted to the other decision makers outside of your purview. By making your requests and wishes known in writing, you increase the chance that everyone on the other end will see your carefully worded and well-reasoned rationale.

8. Thou Shalt Remember the Devil Is in The Details

As we’ve mentioned, most negotiations start with salary. But it’s how much you focus on the details – the stuff outside of salary – that often turns a good job offer into a great one.

Ask about equity, PTO, flex time, remote policies, fringe benefits, bonuses, and anything else that might pack value into your offer. But don’t just ask about them… really understand them. For example, what type of equity is being offered? Restricted Stock Units (RSUs), Profits Interest, Common Stock, Stock Options… the list goes on and on

Just because certain terms of a negotiation might get technical, doesn’t mean it’s okay to overlook them. In fact the opposite is true. Don’t sign a deal you don’t fully understand! You could be leaving value on the table, or just as bad, you could be agreeing to certain terms that end up delivering no value.

9. Thou Shalt Be Respectful and Communicate Clearly

This one almost goes without saying, but under the stress and pressure of a negotiation, we sometimes need to remember to stay professional. Reacting dramatically to an offer you don’t like will do you no good. And on the other side of the coin, accepting an offer with grace and composure is the best way to enter your partnership with a new employer.

Do your best to remain respectful throughout all stages of the negotiation. This entails speaking your mind clearly, and making your negotiation points easily understandable and well-reasoned. At the beginning and end, always be polite and engage in some light small talk when appropriate. Both parties are trying to achieve the same thing – an agreement that benefits all involved.

10. Thou Shalt Take Your Time and Get it Right. 

Finally, few transactions in life are more important, so never forget that in a job offer negotiation, you are trading your time for compensation. Few things in life are more important than your time. As a candidate, not only do you need to be convinced that this is a company worth your time, you also need to make sure you get compensated fairly for what you’re worth. Given the importance of this transaction, don’t settle!

Closing Thoughts on the 10x Commandments

Hopefully these best practices help improve your existing or upcoming negotiation in some way. A closing thought to take with you: If negotiating your job offer is very simple and straightforward, chances are you’re leaving opportunity on the table. 

With so much to be considered in every unique situation, accepting a deal early might suggest you haven’t negotiated to your full potential. Take the necessary time to map out your goals, craft a game plan, and counteroffer when appropriate. Your future self will thank you. Just think about Commandment 10… few transactions in life are more important!