Unacceptable Offer Negotiation
If you have an offer that you are not willing to accept in its current state, you should follow the path of unacceptable offer negotiation.
You should state succinctly what it will take to make the offer acceptable. Following is a sample approach: "I am very interested in working for you if we can come to terms. If you can change _____ and _____ to _____ and _____, I would be willing to immediately accept the offer. Let me know if you are able to make this accommodation."
In taking this approach, you are effectively rejecting the initial offer and making a counter offer. So only take this approach if you are unwilling to accept the offer in its current state. This approach works best (again, as with all offer negotiation) with the hiring manager. By asking for an "accommodation" you are increasing the odds of acceptance, since most hiring managers are already trained to make reasonable accommodations for hiring new employees anyway. You are simply asking for an accommodation that will make the job offer acceptable.
If they are not able to change the offer to your terms, you should be willing to walk away from the original offer. However, some employees may allow the initial offer to stand and hope that you accept it in its original form. But if they really want you and need you, they may be willing to negotiate the terms. If they change the terms to your request, you should be willing to immediately accept. However, it is possible that they may modify the terms of the offer to meet you partway. It will again be up to you to determine if the new offer is acceptable or unacceptable in its new form.
I have been involved in complex offer negotiations that have gone through as many as three rounds (on both sides) of offer-counteroffer. However, most employers will stop after three rounds, so if you haven't found an acceptable middle ground by then, it is unlikely you will be given any further upgrades in the terms.
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