Main image of article How to Negotiate a Job Offer After a Layoff

According to a study by Revelio Labs, not only are laid-off tech workers finding jobs quickly, but 52 percent are actually earning more than they were before.

You might wonder why nearly half of the workers didn’t fare as well financially as their counterparts. Did they lack the confidence to ask for more because of their employment status? Or did they assume the advertised salary ranges were non-negotiable and unknowingly left money on the table?

Don’t let fear or misconceptions keep you from getting the compensation you deserve. “It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re employed or not,” declared Andrew LaCivita, a career coach and author of three books including: “The Hiring Prophecies: Psychology behind Recruiting Successful Employees.”

Unless the offer is obscenely high, the biggest mistake you can make is simply deciding to accept whatever offer you receive, he added. Here are some things you should know about negotiating compensation after a layoff… as well as some critical mistakes to avoid.

Get Your Head Straight and Your Messaging Right

Negotiation actually starts with the very first conversation you have with a prospective employer, explained Alexandra Carter, professor at Columbia Law School and a negotiation coach.

You want to immediately appear competent, knowledgeable and capable, because how you present yourself will determine how a prospective employer will value you. Set the stage by reviewing your accomplishments and focusing your messaging on the strengths that you’re bringing to a new opportunity; not just your skills, but what you do, who you help, and the impact you can deliver.

Your ultimate goal is to move the employer’s attention away from cost to the value you offer. You do that by spurring their imagination and getting them to think about the transformation you can bring from your experience, whether that’s driving growth through product development, leading a high-performing team, or eliminating vulnerabilities caused by flaws in a software development process.

Play Chess, Not Checkers

Being mindful about what you say, don’t say and the questions you ask during the hiring process can put you in a better position to win a negotiation once you receive a written job offer.

For instance, never disclose your pay expectations. You have no idea what to ask for until you know what the job entails and how much pain the manager is in. Let them offer first.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to disclose the names of the other companies you’re interviewing with. The risk of losing you makes you a more attractive candidate and gives you negotiating power.

Don’t wrack up debt by making mini acceptances along the way, LaCivita warned. For instance, if a manager offers you extra vacation time or a flexible work schedule during an interview, they have already made concessions in their own mind before the final negotiation gets underway.

Finally, get inside the manager’s head. For instance, ask how they define success in the role and the last superstar they hired. Their answers will help you understand the things they value and are willing to pay more for.

When it’s time to negotiate compensation, reiterate the manager’s priorities and offer yourself up as the solution. Remember, you’ll never be able to prove that you can deliver more value as an employee until you know what success looks like.

Let the Process Play Out

You’ll never be more valuable nor have more leverage than when an employer has invested time in getting to know you and wants to bring you onboard. So don’t negotiate prematurely.

Along those same lines, it’s never a good idea to accept an offer on the spot; take some time to evaluate it and respond.

Negotiate the Entire Package

Did you know that the advertised salary ranges in job postings are not set in stone? They’re just good faith estimates of the base pay for a position and do not include signing bonuses, performance bonuses, equity, or other benefits and perks.

Every company has a different philosophy when it comes to publishing salaries, but there’s usually flexibility to offer more than the top of the range, especially to someone who brings additional value to the position, Carter said. In fact, hiring managers have told her that they have the authority to offer up to 20 percent more, but candidates seldom ask for a salary above the published range.

As a rule of thumb, Carter says you should be ready to argue for something near the top of the range—but at a minimum, you should ask for 10 percent more than the offered base salary.

Don’t just focus on salary either. Seize the opportunity to create the most advantageous package by negotiating both ends of the employment spectrum, from signing bonuses to severance, and everything in-between. You stand a better chance of getting everything you want if you aggregate your requests.

Remember your employment status has no bearing on your value. You don’t need a job or a competing offer to get the compensation you deserve.