Seven Steps to Take After You Get an Executive Position Offer

You’ve been on three interviews, done your homework on the company, even bought a new suit for the last interview with the search committee. Then you get the call: “we would like to make you an offer.” You’re elated, relieved, and grateful. But now what?

There are a few sure steps to take at this point:

1). Thank whoever has communicated with you, show your enthusiasm and gratefulness and then get down to business. Find out also, when you will receive a written offer, and how much time you have to give an answer.

2).  If you haven’t seen the formal job description, make sure you get one as well as the written terms of the agreement. This is sometimes called a term sheet which is usually followed by a formal contact.

3).  Get some advice from someone knowledgeable. Consult with an employment attorney or contract negotiator. If you are personally negotiating with the future employer (usually not a great idea), make sure you are clear on what you would like to see in the agreement and communicate it. It’s better to let your desires known before the future employer sends a formal contract – it’s easier to negotiate before things are in writing.

4) Make sure you are very clear on the benefits package (health, retirement, vacation, etc) and compare the package to your current situation. Calculate the difference, if any; it’s important.

5).  Also, we are talking about an executive position so make sure you there is a severance package that comes with the offer;  and the length of the contract, and the dozen or more details that you can also find in  my “Negotiating the Nonprofit CEO Contract,” .

6).  Don’t be afraid to ask for the amount of compensation you deserve. A rule of thumb is an increase of at least 10% but more like 15% or higher from your present total compensation (comparing the cost of benefits, etc). Look at the 990s of the organization to get a sense of how much the last person in the position was earning. Review some salary surveys to see what the going rates are. If you are relocating, make sure you understand the cost of living differences.

Your current compensation does have some bearing on the negotiations but frankly, you may have been underpaid in the past. This is your opportunity to improve your position, don’t lose your chance to make more money. (Remember, this will be the new basis for future raises and future job offers). Have some courage, the deal will likely not fall apart if both sides go back and forth.

7).  And be prepared to turn down the offer. If it’s a good job and the organization wants you, there is a good chance that there will be more good jobs offered to you in the future. The odds are in favor of the employee for the best jobs, the demand is now exceeding the supply (you are the supply).

James Abruzzo, Consultant, Consulting, Executive Search, Nonprofit Compensation, Expert Witness, Seven Steps

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