You’ve gotten the offer, congratulations! Maybe you’re inclined to accept. It’s been a long search, the offer seems pretty good, and if you hesitate they might just change their mind, right? Not necessarily. Nine times out of ten it’s in your interest to pause, take a short time to reflect on the job itself, and depending on what you find negotiate to get what you want.
In that short window of time between their offer and your acceptance, you have an opportunity to further define the role to boost your chances of job success and satisfaction (as well as negotiate compensation, but that’s for another post). Skipping this reflection/negotiation phase might be a mistake for which you’ll pay dearly. Too many clients have come to me in desperate straits after taking the wrong job, because they ignored warning signs when accepting the offer. Remember, once you accept, there’s no more negotiation; you just have to perform.
Keep in mind that when you receive an offer, all the negotiation leverage switches instantly from them to you. They aren’t thinking about the other candidates anymore, and they want you to start yesterday. So unless you’re really obnoxious, you won’t lose the offer because of thoughtful but appropriately tough questions, or your desire to negotiate. If you approach the discussion with a can-do, positive, “we’re on the same side of the table” attitude, you’ll be fine. So consider whether:
• The hiring manager’s expectations for what you’ll be delivering are aligned with yours and reflect what you want.
‌• You’ll be given the resources to deliver on those expectations by the organization.
‌• The organization is aligned with your new role. This means, for example, that no one else at the organization thinks you have their job, the company isn’t on the verge of going bankrupt, and the organization’s strategy will support your ability to succeed, not hinder it.
To help you in considering and negotiating these areas, arm yourself first with knowledge by conducting two analyses.
Personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis:
Search the internet for “SWOT” and you’ll find pages of articles and resources that explain how to use this tool for evaluating a business. But you can use it on yourself as well. With this analysis, you will build a self awareness that will tell you what to negotiate to minimize threats and maximize opportunities for success in the role. To conduct this analysis:
1. Brainstorm and write down both your strengths and your weaknesses as they relate to the role, in two columns. Be really candid with yourself. The more thoughtful you are in this data gathering step, the more you will understand what you need to be happy and successful in your new role.
2. From this list of strengths and weaknesses, come up with opportunities you can seize for success in your prospective job, and then potential threats to your achieving that success. The opportunities will be derived from your strengths, and the threats will come from your weaknesses.
Here’s an example. Alia was offered a job directing a sales team. She thanked the human resources person who contacted her for the offer, said she knew she would enjoy working for the hiring manager but needed a few days to think about it, and then immediately made an appointment with her prospective boss “to ensure we’re both set up for success.” To prepare for that meeting, she did her personal SWOT analysis. Among her many strengths, she identified “Building relationships that break down barriers between people and departments.” When it came to her candid assessment of her weaknesses, she included “Detailed technical analysis involving spreadsheets and data.”
From this self-reflection, she came up with this opportunity: she could use her strength to address a problem she heard about in her interviews: a lack of collaboration between sales and the support areas of marketing and finance that affected the sales team’s ability to close deals and target the right audience. She would break down these barriers and build bridges that would give her sales team the tools they needed to boost results.
Alia determined that a big threat to her success could come from her self-identified weakness; the substantial time she would personally need to spend on sales data analytics could sidetrack  her from focusing on her building-bridges goal. After all, in the interviews she heard her predecessor praised for how he used data analysis to steer the sales team.
Armed with this insight, in that meeting with her boss she made the case for focusing on her collaboration goal, and negotiated additional business analytics support so she wouldn’t have to personally spend time on it. She got what she wanted before accepting. The result: within the first year, she accomplished her goal, the sales team’s results correspondingly improved, and she received both a fantastic performance review and an unexpectedly big raise.