How To Negotiate Your Start Date—And Other Parts Of Your Offer

You just got a job offer. But there’s a problem. They want you to start in two weeks, but you don't want to start for another month.

negotiate job offer

What should you do?


Your start date is just one of several components of a job offer you may have the ability to change with the right approach. But if you're like most Americans, negotiating is not something you particularly enjoy. A survey by Glassdoor shows people are often reluctant to negotiate, even when it comes to something as basic as salary. The survey found that 59 percent of Americans polled accepted the first salary offer they got. Women were even more hesitant to negotiate than men, with 68 percent accepting the offered salary, compared to 52 percent of men.

But negotiating doesn't have to be intimidating. You just need to do a little planning to help ensure your success. Below are several tips that can help get you started.

Assess the offer and prioritize your concerns.

When considering a job offer, review the whole package—including the start date—and determine your goals for the negotiation. Having a clear vision of your priorities and goals when you begin the process can make it more likely that you’ll be happy with the outcome.

Consider the company's needs.

Sometimes a company has the ability to be flexible on salary or start date, and sometimes they don't. Understanding the difference up front can help guide negotiations. For example, if you know the main reason the company wants to hire you is because it's desperately short-staffed and at risk of missing an important deadline, chances are they'll probably be less willing to negotiate a later start date than a company with more flexible needs. The same is true for salary and other components the offer. If the company has a salary cap or rules prohibiting you from working from home, you won't be able to get far with your negotiation, regardless of your approach.

Address all your concerns at once.

A piecemeal approach can backfire in negotiations. The company representative may get frustrated if you come to terms on salary, they believe the negotiation is finished, and you come back requesting a later start date. For this reason, it's wise to submit your requested adjustments to the job offer all at once, rather than attempting to negotiate them separately.

Provide rational reasons why you're negotiating.

Don't just ask for a later start date or permission to work from home one day a week, provide reasons why these requests are justified. For example, maybe you've already booked a vacation and can't change the reservations, or you signed a contract with your current employer granting them four-weeks notice. The company is far more likely to approve a rational and justifiable request rather than one that's being presented for no reason.

Keep it civil.

Watch your tone during negotiations. While you may feel like adversaries during this process, the goal is to become colleagues. A nasty tone during the negotiation process can set a negative tone for your work at the company. In addition, you're likely to get more of what you're hoping for if the person you're negotiating with likes you than if they're turned off by your behavior.

Be prepared to meet in the middle.

Negotiations sometimes require compromise on your part. If something is less important to you than start date, consider compromising on that point to accomplish your true goal. And once again, remember all aspects of the job offer—not just the salary—have value. If the salary is fixed, negotiating start date or work hours can give you a benefit that offsets the lost bump in pay. You may benefit even if you compromise in some cases.

Put it in writing.

Whenever possible, be certain to put your proposal and the final agreement in writing. This protects you later on should any aspect of the agreement be called into dispute. It also helps ensure that you get all the compensation you were promised.

While negotiations may seem intimidating, they're really no more than a back-and-forth conversation about your needs and the company's needs. Often, taking the time to negotiate start date or other aspects of the job offer will pay off. You might not always get everything you're looking for, but you'll probably get more than you would have if you didn't try to negotiate at all.

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