How to Negotiate a Better Job Offer in the Trades


Negotiating a better offer in the trades can be tricky, especially if it’s a union job. The key is to really understand why you’re going back to renegotiate. Just because you know that trade labor is in high demand, doesn’t mean that they’ll pay you more just because you want more money. They have their own restraints and limits too. So think about it carefully, because if you’re renegotiating, that technically means you’re turning down the original offer. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to be creative and create new solutions!  Here are some tips to come up with an offer that works for both you and your potential employer:

Timing is everything

We’re talking about a negotiation here, which means that they’ve already made an offer, or they’re asking for your input on the original offer. You don’t want to start out making demands before they’ve decided you’re the best person for the job. Once they’ve picked you and are ready to talk about compensation, you have more leverage because they don’t want to restart the interview process again if they don’t have to.

Establish your primary objective

Be clear on what your top priorities are, and have a real reason for negotiating. For example, do you want a pay increase because you need to move to a new neighborhood to be closer to the job? Or did you get a another offer that was more compelling for some reason? Or maybe their offer is way under the typical salary in your market for this position. If necessary do your research to be prepared. Help them understand what your goals are, and they’ll be able to relate with you better and more likely to work with you to find a solution!

Be creative with solutions

Think again about what it is that you really need, beyond the paycheck. Employers have a lot more to offer than just more money. For example, they might be willing to provide flexible hours, or more vacation time, or even training and tuition reimbursement! And they may have access to quality gear and equipment that they’ll provide or allow you to buy at wholesale. Things like the new skills you get from training will help them too, so remind them of how they’ll benefit.

Unions have ranges

If it’s an offer in a union environment, don’t assume that there’s not room to negotiate. There’s usually a scale of pay allowed, and if your offer wasn’t at the top of the range, they may be able to increase the original offer. Plus they too will have options outside of salary, such as bonuses, travel expenses, retirement, and more. It usually doesn’t hurt to ask, and you might discover an extra benefit you weren’t aware of before.

Have the spirit of collaboration

Keep a positive problem-solving attitude. Reinforce with them that you’re excited about the position, and want to contribute to their success. Clear communication will be key, so be upfront and honest. Know what you’re willing to walk away from, if they can’t meet your requests. And, have an open mind and express gratitude for their consideration! Ideally, everyone feels that it’s a win-win in the end.


If you’re looking for a new job in the trades, and not happy with the offers you’re getting, Madden can help you find and negotiate the job you’re looking for.  We’re always looking for talented craftsmen, call us today!