Most employers and candidates enter the hiring process with what are referred to as “non-negotiables”. Regardless of which side of the hiring process you represent, these supposed deal breakers typically fall into the same categories: wage, hours, benefits, vacation time, etc. Despite how unyielding the term sounds, it is rare that a candidate accepts a job offer that aligns perfectly with their original non-negotiables; as a result, these seemingly rigid expectations are often just starting points. Through demonstrating a willingness to work with the person on the opposite end of the offer, navigating the negotiation process will be more successful for both companies looking to acquire new talent and job seekers hoping to find their next employment opportunity.

If you find that you have differing views of what constitutes an appropriate job offer, remember that the only way to win in this process is if both parties reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind if your non-negotiables are halting the hiring process.



  • The offer that you extend will be dependent on the candidate’s experience, education and expectations. Therefore, enter the hiring process with a compensation range in mind rather than a definitive number. By having a range, you should be able to meet a counter offer somewhere in the middle.
  • Maintain transparency with candidates so that they can manage their expectations from application to offer. The sooner you can both decide if their expectations and needs meet yours, the faster you will be able to fill the open position.
  • Research your industry, the position that you are hiring for, and the location of your company to determine what a competitive job offer entails. Low offers with limited benefit packages are a quick way to lose valuable candidates.
  • Although wage can be a major selling point, it can also discourage candidates from accepting your offer. As a result, it is important to highlight other areas if you are not able to offer an impressive salary. Get to know your key applicants and cater their job offers to their needs. If they mentioned enjoying travel, highlight vacation time. Similarly, if they are hoping to continue their education in one form or another, talk to them about any programs that are available through your company to do just that.


Job Seeker

  • When you receive a job offer, look at the employment opportunity as a whole rather than individual pieces. While the offer may not meet your compensation expectations, consider if the other areas align with your wants and needs. Take vacation time and ability to work remotely into consideration as well as the benefits package.
  • If you are uncomfortable with the original offer, know the market well enough to be able to explain why you believe that you are worth more. To have a successful conversation in this instance, it is necessary that you research the salaries of positions in comparable companies and industries.
  • Resist the urge to give an ultimatum. Even if you are their ideal candidate, making bold statements such as, “if you aren’t able to offer more, I will be forced to accept an offer with someone else” will not be received well. Trade this mentality in for an open mind and willingness to reach an agreement.
  • Understand that companies have constraints, and even if the person who interviewed you would love to offer more, how much they can offer may be out of their control. This is where transparency throughout the hiring process is important, so that any constraints are apparent.


In the end, most job offers are negotiable on either side of the desk. Through communication, tack, and willingness to work with the other person, a mutually beneficial job offer can exist.