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How to negotiate your employment contract

The job search process can be long and complex; when you finally receive that longed-for employment offer, you may well be ready to agree to the terms immediately. But it is worth considering if there is room for negotiation within the proffered contract. Starting off with a deal you are truly satisfied with, knowing your employer values you, is the best way to begin a new chapter in your career. Yet an American study found that only 39% of people negotiated during their last job offer. At CareerWise, we are experts in all aspects of the recruitment process, and can help you on your job hunt journey, from assessing your skills and C.V., through interviews, all the way to finalising the terms and conditions of your employment. Here is our guide to negotiating your employment contract.

What to consider

When thinking about negotiating a contract, consider all aspects of the employer’s offer. Use a salary guide to check if the pay matches what similar roles provide. But also think about the overall package: bonuses, annual leave, working hours? Are there any other benefits, such as healthcare provision or a pension scheme? Perhaps one feature of the package compensates for another not matching expectations.

Preparing for a contract negotiation

Prepare for your contract negotiation meeting just as you would for an interview. It is very important to do your research. You need to know what a bench mark deal would be for similar roles; it’s fair to ask for more money to match the going rate, but if you ask for substantially more, you will damage your reputation before you even start the job. 

In the meeting

There are several things to remember when you are in the contract negotiation meeting. 


  • Strike a balance 

Be prepared to hold your own and ask for what you need, but equally remain realistic about what the employer can offer you.

  • Be likeable and polite 

The person you are talking to will be playing a role in the decision making, so you need to keep them onside. Be diplomatic and mindful of how your requests will come across. 

  • Justify your argument

Come to the table armed with information about why you are worth the extra pay, or the increased flexibility. Back up what you are asking for with hard data, if possible. Your request needs to stand up, not just to the person interviewing you who you have formed a connection with, but to those who will assess it on paper later on. 

  • Don’t give ultimatums

It may seem like a good idea to tell your potential employers how many other companies want you, and it might be worth mentioning if you have been offered a better deal elsewhere. But trying to lay down your terms too strongly will come across as arrogance; instead, tell them why you’d rather come and work for them, if it were possible to make the small contractual adjustments you require. 

  • Be prepared for questions 

They may well be tough questions. Arm yourself with all the knowledge you can relating to your contract requests and why the employer should grant them. 

  • Acknowledge non-negotiable restraints

An employer could find themselves unable to budge in certain areas because of circumstances beyond their control – for instance, a pay cap. Make sure you know of anything of this nature so that you can tailor your requests accordingly – there is no point in requesting the impossible. 

  • Retain perspective

Don’t focus exclusively on salary. If this job comes with a host of great benefits and potential career development, it might not be worth tarnishing your reputation by being picky about a slightly smaller salary. 

  • Keep a record of your meeting

Often, things change between a meeting and the reality of the job once you are started. If agreed terms aren’t being met, make sure you have noted down what was said at your negotiation. Bring it up in your next review. 

  • Establish your boundaries

Go to your meeting with clear boundaries in mind. If there is something that makes the job unworkable for you, make sure you know what it is, and draw a line at that point.

After the meeting

Whatever the outcome of your negotiations, you should follow up with an email thanking them for hearing you out, and confirming any promises that you were given during the meeting.


Are You Looking For A Job In Ireland?

CareerWise is Ireland’s leading specialist recruitment firm, based in Cork, Shannon, Galway, Mayo and Dublin and we can help you to find your ideal new job in Ireland. We specialise in the Engineering, Supply Chain, Science/Pharma, IT and Accounting industries in Ireland, and we look forward to working with you. Contact us online now or call us on +353 (0) 21 206 1900 to arrange a consultation.


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CareerWise Recruitment. EastGate Village, EastGate, Little Island, Cork.

Phone: +353 (0) 21 206 1900