Salary Negotiation Tips: Correcting a Discrepancy on an Offer

This week’s question — The compensation package the recruiter and I agreed to verbally does not match the actual written contract I received as an offer. How do I address this?

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Q: In my last face-to-face meeting with the recruiter we agreed to a compensation package that met all my needs. However, I just received the actual written contract and some of the benefits we discussed (commission structure, vacation days) are missing — how do I address this?

A: Something to avoid is the idea of “we’ll clear it up later.” The time you have most leverage is when salary negotiations begin; when the employer is saying you’re the best candidate. Don’t put it off and hope it’ll be cleared up later. You want to go back over it so it’s cleared up now.

Do a lockdown maneuver: you appreciate the offer and are inclined to accept, but some things appear to be a little different than originally said, so there may be items that need to be negotiated. Say, “I wouldn’t jeopardize the offer as it stands by getting this cleared up, would I?” When they say no, then move forward: “I’d like to bring some of these things back to what we talked about in our conversations.”

From the point of having the offer locked down, you can then go back for those pieces. If you can’t get vacations, get other time off. If you can’t get the money you want, negotiate bonuses. If you’re not offered the advancement or title you want, negotiate some other benefits that make up for that, and then continue negotiations until you make it to the point you want.