Skip to main content

Negotiation Advice

You’ve gotten a job offer! Sit back and savor the moment. But don’t say yes immediately. If your offer was verbal, let the employer know you’re looking forward to receiving it in writing. If you received it in writing, it is fine to take a few days to think things over.

When you are offered the job, you are in the best position to negotiate salary and benefits. After you accept, negotiations are over and you’ll be treated like everyone else, with standard salary reviews and benefits. Unless you negotiate something different! Request an appointment with an Alumni Career Engagement (ACE) advisor to review your job offers or strategize your negotiations.

There are three steps to negotiating a job offer:

1. Analyze the Offer

  • Salary. Do your research. Is the offer comparable to others in the industry from their competitors in your area? What are your particular skills, experience or insight that merit higher pay? Do you have competing offers? How do they compare?
  • Benefits. Are there benefits you would care to negotiate for? How about deferred compensation terms, graduate school tuition, vacation, flexible hours or paid parking?
  • Total Compensation. When considering your offer, be sure to review your total compensation package, or your salary plus your benefits. Benefits vary from employer to employer, but have been averaging about 1/3 or more of the total monetary value of a compensation package. Multiplying your pre-tax salary by the percent value of your benefit package will give you a dollar value of your total compensation.
  • Career. How will this job position you for your next career move? Will it give you opportunities to develop the skills, experience and connections you need to accomplish your career goals? If the answer is yes, the job offer may be more valuable than another with a higher salary or better benefits.
  • Get it in Writing. Total compensation tends to come into play as you consider your work-life goals, and can be a major factor in deciding between offers. If you negotiate special compensation, always get it in writing, preferably in your offer letter.

2. Discuss the Offer

  • Prove Your Value. Salary and benefits are what you receive in exchange for the work you do. If you prove that your work has the value you’re asking for, your negotiations will be more successful. If you claim to need a higher salary because of the cost of living or because your previous salary was higher, you’ll be less successful. Be honest about your capabilities and direct in your conversations.
  • Be flexible. If budgets are tight, consider asking for a signing bonus, relocation costs or a six month salary review as a negotiating tactic. Realize that some benefits – like health insurance – are not typically negotiable.
  • Be courteous. Be aware that you are building your first company relationships during negotiations.
  • Understand Total Compensation. Ask your recruiter or the hiring manager for total compensation information before making any decisions. Benefits may include:
    • Flexible work hours and/or telecommuting
    • Life and Disability (short/long term) Insurance
    • Retirement Plans
    • Paid Time Off (holidays, vacation, sick and personal)
    • Health, Accident and Liability Protection (individual and/or family coverage)
    • Income Equivalent Benefits (child/elder care, flexible spending, relocation, cell phone, computer, transportation allowances)
    • Professional Development (education reimbursement, conferences, professional memberships)

3. Accept the Offer

Always formally accept a job offer in writing, even if you have accepted the position over the phone.

  • Thank them for the offer and express your appreciation/enthusiasm for the position
  • Specifically state that you accept the offer and include the terms and conditions of the offer (salary, benefits and any other terms or conditions), your start date and location.
  • Address the acceptance to the person who offered you the position
  • Include your address, email and phone number

If you received your offer by email:

  • If there were no changes to the offer, you may “reply all” by email and state you accept the position as described in the email below (state date). Make sure all the information above is included. Save a copy for yourself. Use received and read receipts. We recommend calling the person who sent you the offer to make sure your email arrived.
  • If there were changes to your offer, ask that a new email offer be sent, then follow the same steps.

If you received your offer in hard copy:

  • If there were no changes to the offer, you may sign the offer letter “I accept this offer as described.” Sign and date the letter and return to the person who made the offer. Keep a copy for your files. We recommend calling the person who sent you the offer to make sure it was received.
  • If your offer changed, request a revised offer letter then follow the same steps.