Job Offers & Negotiation

First Response to an Offer

Offers are generally first given over the phone, with a follow-up letter explaining it in more detail. Always thank the company for the offer and show enthusiasm. Be sure to ask when you can expect to receive the written offer and ask how much time you have before making a final commitment. After evaluating the offer, call the contact and tell them you would like to discuss this opportunity.

Evaluating the Offer

Before receiving any offers, you should clearly identify what you want and what you need (and know the difference between the two). You will also need to determine what your skills are worth in today’s marketplace.

Here are some aspects of the job to weigh:

Job Specifics

  • Position: Make sure that you are aware of the position being offered, including the job duties, work environment, advancement opportunities, and the location of the position.
  • Start Date: Though the company may want you to begin working right away, be sure that you have enough time to mentally and physically begin.
  • Salary: Research the appropriate salary range for someone with your major, degree and experience in your chosen field. Salary surveys contain good salary data and averages while salary calculators give you information on how geographic location changes the cost of living and affects your salary. Recommended sites include,, NACE Salary Calculator, and
  • Moving: Don’t be afraid to ask if the organization reimburses for moving expenses. To help you prepare for the move and new residence, refer to our Relocation Information,, and the United States Postal Service.
  • Bonus: Depending on the industry you are in, a signing bonus may be negotiable. Ask and have a monetary value in mind. Be aware that you can ask the question, but do not want to appear too aggressive.
  • Benefits: Benefits packages vary widely in terms of what is offered and how much is covered. Determine what your needs are, and if the offer does not match up, it’s time to negotiate, though not all benefits are negotiable. Recognize that if you are financially responsible for some of your benefits, your salary monies will be committed to health coverage.
  • Other: You may also consider negotiating professional association membership fees, company car, work schedule, time off, employment assistance for a spouse/partner, early performance reviews, and the time frame regarding when you have to respond to the offer.

Negotiating the Offer

Successful salary negotiations embrace five principles based on the knowledge that your beginning salary reflects your value to an organization and typically determines future salary increases. Regardless of whether or not you think the salary is adequate, we suggest that you incorporate these five principles into your job search. This will help you negotiate both professionally and effectively:

1. Research

Justify to your future employer why you deserve to receive a higher salary. To do this, you will need to spend some time researching your market value. Once you have determined the appropriate salary range for the type of job you are being offered, you can more effectively negotiate. You also need to research who in the company has the ability to negotiate salary.

2. Self-Confidence

It is crucial to display self-confidence in negotiations. Without it, employers will feel that they don’t have to offer anything more to you. Know what you want in terms of salary, including the least amount that you will accept. Know what you are worth through peer comparisons and through research. When you approach the employer with your request for a higher salary, be confident that the amount you are requesting is what you are worth. By marketing yourself in this manner, you have a better chance at persuading the employer to consider your counteroffer.

3. Recognition of Mutual Needs

Recognizing both your needs and your employer’s needs helps you gain empathy, respect and negotiating power. Put yourself in the position of the employer to better understand his or her interests, needs, and perception of you. The employer initially values the vacant position more than she or he values the interviewee. Keeping this in mind, it is up to you to prove that your value equals or exceeds the value the employer places on the position. Ask thoughtful questions during the interview such as asking what his or her goals are for the position. Self-confidence and good communication during the interview will demonstrate your value to the organization.

4. Calculated Timing

Timing is everything. As a rule, salary should never be discussed before the offer is extended. If asked about salary requirements during the interview process, kindly avoid discussion of a specific figure with a sincere response such as “I am certain that you will offer the best possible salary based upon my value to your organization.” By mentioning your salary figure, you may be screened out of the selection process because the company cannot afford you. Also, be aware of what the employer can and cannot negotiate. Often, the employer cannot negotiate on company policies like the number of vacation days you might receive, but they may be able to negotiate your salary or flex time.

Try not to finalize your discussion on salary until you know that they want you. When discussing salary, give the employer a range, not a specific number. Remember, a job offer opens the lines for salary discussion and possible negotiation. Because you have been selected as a finalist among other candidates, you have an advantage, which puts you in the position to negotiate. Now it’s time to evaluate the situation and communicate your interest, qualifications, value, and your fee for service.

5. Evaluation and Communication

In most cases, the salary discussion should be initiated by the employer, first with a phone call and then an accompanying letter explaining the offer in more detail. Once the employer opens the discussion, it’s time for you to professionally address the issue based upon your research. One way to address the issue is by saying something like: “Well, from my research over the past few months, I’ve figured that a person with my qualifications in a position similar to this is paid anywhere from $42-46,000 a year.”

When considering an offer, do not feel that you have to come to a decision quickly or on the spot. Most employers will allow you time to think about the offer. During the thinking process, reaffirm your interest in the position to the employer. For instance, you could say, “I’m very excited about this opportunity. I would like to take a little time to think about everything we’ve discussed and would like to get back to you as soon as possible. Would tomorrow be a good time to talk again?”

Throughout the entire negotiation process, stay confident and poised, but also enthusiastic about the offer.

Accepting or Declining the Offer

Once you and the employer have reached an agreement on a job offer, it is time to formally accept the position. You may do this in whatever format you discussed with the employer, whether it be by phone, email, or formal letter. In the acceptance, specify the job you are accepting and review starting salary, basic job responsibilities, and the date you will start work.

If you decide that a position or job offer is not for you, you should formally decline the offer, tactfully stating your reasons for not accepting the job. It is beneficial to convey your appreciation for the interview and the employer’s time because you may want to work for her/him in the future.