What’s one of the first things you do after getting a job offer? Why, figure out how and what to negotiate, of course. While you may’ve conferred with your parents on your very first job offer, you’re now at the point where you feel confident doing this on your own. You’re a grown adult and you’d almost be embarrassed to ask for help at this juncture.
But, when you’re in a serious, committed relationship, living together, and sharing financial responsibilities with another person, having a discussion (or series of discussions) before you accept an offer may be an important part of the process. Depending on your relationship, where it’s headed, and which one of you is more comfortable talking about money, you may wish to seek your partner’s assistance when it comes to talking about your professional worth.
Ultimately, you’ve got to be the judge of that. If you’re on the fence about just how candidly to discuss your job offer, consider the following three practical guidelines for when to loop your partner in and allow him or her to offer thoughts:
1. If He or She Is a Master Negotiator
I consider myself a pretty solid negotiator, but my fiancé might have me beat. The thing is, he negotiates regularly as a part of his day-to-day business activity, so he’s used to dealing with all kinds of people, and he’s accustomed to the expected back-and-forth that’s a typical part of this kind of discussion. Thus, even though I trust that without him, I’m capable of presenting a strong case for myself, I know with his help, I’ll be stronger and even more persuasive.
Figure out who the master negotiator in your relationship is (who managed that room upgrade at no extra cost during your last vacation? Who got everyone in both your families to come to your house for Thanksgiving?) and, if you determine that it’s not you, embrace the fact that you’re involved with someone who possesses this skill. Explain your strategy first—do you want to inquire about a work-from-home day instead of more vacation days?—and then let him present his masterful plan of action for tweaking your offer in a way that'll suit you best.
2. If He or She Has a Successful Track Record
So your partner has been down this road before. Maybe more than once. If she successfully negotiated a salary package (or three) in the past, listen closely to what she has to say about her experience. If you’re someone who isn’t comfortable talking about money—and that’s a lot of us, so don’t feel bad—and your partner thrives on navigating these often difficult conversations, you’d be smart to take notes on her approach: Why did it work? What did she say exactly? How did she say it? and consider how you could work those winsome tactics into your conversation with your hiring manager.
Sometimes, it can be hard to see the big picture when you’re so excited about something. This is where your partner, especially one who has had to negotiate important matters before, can come in and offer you a fresh perspective. You might think that the commission-based bonus potential is so great there’s no reason to make it a point of discussion, but maybe your S.O. sees cause for concern in the low base salary should you struggle to make monthly goals—and, therefore, your bonus. If you’re splitting bills and planning a life together, you probably should be talking to each other in detail before you sign and scan that employment letter, doubly so if you admire your partner’s past negotiating wins.
3. If He or She Has a Regretful Experience to Tell
Let’s say your S.O. remembers the day two years ago he got an offer with the company he’d been hoping to get his foot in the door for years prior to snagging a meeting with the head of marketing. After acing the interviews and reporting excellent conversations regarding compensation, he signed without bothering to ask for a better salary package. He had everything he wanted; why drag on the acceptance, he thought. In retrospect, not negotiating was a poor decision. Although he’s in a good place professionally, he deeply regrets not setting the tone for his employment when he had an opportunity to do so—when it was, in fact, expected that he would.
Your partner’s regret is actually good for you! He obviously can’t go back now and ask for a higher starting salary or greater equity shares, but know that he’s played that conversation again and again in his mind. Because he won’t want you to make the same mistake that he did, he’ll be a powerful resource in your articulation of the job offer deliberation. Have a conversation about what’s possible and what’s important and keep those points in mind when you respond to the hiring manager with your proposal.
Regardless of how stellar your negotiating skills are, if you’re planning a future with someone, it’s practical, courteous, and respectful to speak openly about a job offer with him or her. After all, wouldn’t you want to know if your fiancé was about to accept a job that had a very limited vacation policy and a completely inflexible work hours policy?