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Offer & Salary Negotiation

Negotiating a job offer can be new and intimidating for many college students. However, the more information you have about what to expect and how to prepare, the more confident you will feel in the process.

Below are seven easy steps to follow when you are preparing to negotiate your job offer.

1. Research 

When you begin applying to a job, you should research the typical salary and benefits for that type of role. It’s important to consider the type, size, and location of the organization as well as your experience and education levels. You should also know your ideal salary and the lowest salary you would accept. This will help you decide if you need to negotiate for a higher salary.

2. Consider the ideal outcome for both sides

If your job negotiation goes well, you’ll start an ongoing relationship with the other party (your new employer). The goal is to find a deal that works for both you and your employer. Keep in mind that this is not a competition; it’s an opportunity to develop a positive relationship. The negotiation process is a chance for you to show professionalism and strong communication to your potential employer, so remember to be appropriate, confident, and pleasant.

3. Wait before accepting an offer

It’s very important to consider the offer and ask clarifying questions before you accept. Even if the offer sounds great and you don’t think you need to negotiate (and you may not!), you should not accept the offer on the spot. Thank them for the offer, express your excitement and gratitude at the opportunity, and then ask when they need your decision. That way you can make sure you fully understand the offer before you agree to anything. This also gives you time to discuss the offer with your career advocates, typically close friends and/or family members.

4. Clarify details of the offer

Once you have an offer from your potential employer, it’s important to review the details and ask questions about anything that’s unclear. You may want to look at salary, pay schedule (monthly, twice monthly, every two weeks), paid time off (vacation and sick leave, when you can start using it, etc.), retirement savings programs, and other benefits.

5. Determine what to negotiate

When negotiating a job offer, consider the following in addition to salary.

  • Signing bonus
  • Timing of performance reviews, especially if tied to raises
  • Relocation expenses
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Vacation time or work schedule
  • Commissions, profit sharing, stock options

6. Communicate clearly and positively

Be sure to respect the timelines that you and the employer have agreed upon regarding when you will let them know your decision, and be clear about what you would like to negotiate. If you plan to negotiate multiple parts of the offer, provide them together rather than negotiating each one at a time.

7. Make a decision

Once you’ve received clarification and negotiated, it is time to make your decision. Will you accept the terms that you and the employer landed on, or will you decline the offer and continue your job search? Whichever you decide, make sure that you communicate your decision in a respectful and timely manner. If you choose to decline, consider briefly and professionally explaining why, particularly if you went through negotiations.

If you have any questions about negotiating a job offer or would like additional advice on the process, please schedule an appointment with a career advisor at the Career Center.