Alumni

Offers and Negotiations

Evaluating and negotiating the terms of a job offer are two important aspects of your job search. How you manage your offers and your decisions regarding negotiation can impact your career trajectory and earning power, as well as create an impression about your professionalism with the firms whose opportunities you accept or decline.

When considering an offer and deciding on your negotiation strategy, there are multiple factors to take into account. For this reason, it can be useful to give yourself time to thoughtfully review all aspects of the offer so you can balance your desire and excitement for a new job with the realities of what it means to commit to the right employer.

Evaluating the offer

There is more to evaluating an offer beyond base salary. Consider each of these elements in your evaluation process:

  • The package offered by the employer
    • Content of the role – Job title, reporting relationship, and scope of responsibilities
    • Total compensation – Salary, bonuses, health/wellness benefits, retirement plans, and any long-term incentives such as stock options, stock appreciation rights, or profit sharing plans
    • Paid-time-off benefits – vacation, sick, short- or long-term disability, and/or floating holidays.
    • Perquisites – Flexible scheduling, relocation assistance, stock purchase plans, no-cost legal advisement, and/or supplemental life insurance  
  • Your values and needs
    • Current and future career objectives – Will the position provide opportunities for you to gain new experiences that will help get you to the next level on your career ladder?
    • Work/life balance – Can you realistically meet the demands of the role as it relates to hours on the job, expected work outputs, and/or travel?
    • Financial requirements – Given your financial commitments, will the job provide for you/your family’s needs. This consideration is especially important for those whose offers may include a decrease in compensation, such as when making a move from a corporate role into entrepreneurship or to a start-up company.
  • Market research
  • The state of your overall interview process
    • Competing opportunities – Determine the companies you are most interested in well in advance of the interview process to help you manage your time and determine whether you need to decline invitations to interview because you have already received a preferable offer.

When evaluating an offer, remember that even a verbal acceptance is considered binding. It is difficult if not impossible to retract your acceptance without causing damage to your relationship with the hiring manager and the organization.

For assistance incorporating each of these factors into your decision making, review the additional information, resources, and offer evaluation template in the Experienced Candidate Offer Evaluation Guidelines.

Negotiate

The way you handle offer negotiations and the way the representatives from the organization behave set the tone for your continuing relationship with the hiring manager and the firm. Once you have prepared by evaluating the offer against your needs and expectations, you are ready to negotiate.

The following are a few tips to consider:

  • Gather as many details about the offer as possible and ask for them in writing. This would include the description of the role, the reporting structure, and the compensation terms.
  • Rank the importance to you of the various elements.
  • Schedule time with the hiring manager to discuss your questions.
  • Be ready to propose alternatives to the offer terms. Think of this as a way to find a win-win situation for you and the employer.
  • Make sure to present all of your considerations at the same time. Don’t go back and forth multiple times on different topics.
  • You don’t always have to negotiate. If the terms meet (or exceed) your considered expectations, and terms have been discussed throughout the interview process, you may just want to accept.

Final tips

  • When all discussions have been finalized and agreement is reached on all the terms, ask for the information in writing. This may include details like start date, salary, and bonus information. It may also include any details about other benefits. If they won’t put it in writing, send an email with the terms as you understand them, and ask for confirmation.
  • If you determine that an offer is not the right fit for you, do not delay your response to the organization. While it may be tempting to keep your options open, be aware that the firm needs to continue their selection process. Use this situation as an opportunity to maintain a positive relationship by informing the employer as soon as possible of your decision.
  • Once you accept an offer, either in writing or via conversation, you need to stop interviewing with other companies.

If you have questions regarding if the job offer is the right fit for you or if you have questions regarding the negotiation process, schedule a time to meet with a Career Coach.

When you have accepted a job offer, celebrate! And thank those who helped you along the way, whether they did so through networking or providing advice. A personal note helps to solidify your relationship for the long term.