Negotiate Job Offers

Once you have received a job offer, you have more “power” than at any other time in the interviewing process. Aside from the main goal of making the right decision, much can be gained or lost from the way you negotiate you offer.

Characteristics of Receiving a Job Offer


An offer can arrive anywhere from one day to six weeks after your second or third interview.

Impressions Still Count

Continue to make good impression when the offer arrives. Let employers know that you are pleased to receive an offer, but do not announce to your roommate that you got the job! On the other had, do not make a negative impression with employers by telling them how many other offers you have received. 

Recognize the Uniqueness of Each Negtiation

Sometimes you will have skills to offer employers which are in high demand. Negotiation will be easier in this situation. At other times, you offer is one of many with other candidates waiting in the wings if you do not accept the offer is negotiable or not. Know the situation and be prepared to justify your request if you are not in a high-demand field. 

Clarify the Offer

Be clear on all the factors that make up the offer. Get the following information before you get off the phone with the employer:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Location
  • Reporting date
  • Relocation expense offered
  • Signing bonus (if any)
  • When they your answer 

Negotiate Time of Decision

Do NOT accept the job offer on the spot. Although you may have been considering the possible offer, you need time to evaluate all the factors of this decision. 


Remember not to be “star struck” by the excitement of the offer. Determine a reasonable length of time for you to make your decision (a few days to a week), and be ready to give the employer this time frame when you receive an offer. Employers know you are interviewing with other organizations and will appreciate you being honest and careful about your decision. 

Factors That May Be Negotiated

Remember, you have nothing to negotiate until you have an offer! Once you receive one, it is important that you consider all possible factors: 

Salary (To Certain Limits)

The offered salary may or may not be negotiable, and it may or may not be a fair offer. Prior to negotiating this factor, research salaries offered in your field by geographical location, experience, degree level, major, and previous offers. You will often find that salary an employee receives varies greatly by job, employer, and region by the country.

Location of Position

There are many differences between working in various cities. Take the time to check out the geographic area of the position. Does the community offer you the lifestyle you are looking for? Do you have the option the option to choose the location of the job? With some positions, negotiating where you live can make the difference in accepting a job or not. 

Reporting Date

Depending on the organization and your job, some employers might be able to offer a flexible starting date. If you have ever dreamed of backpacking or cycling through Europe, now may be the time! Maybe you just want to take some time off to relax. Now is the opportunity to negotiate when you will begin your new job. 

Appraisal Reviews

Some employers may give bonuses for job performance. Often, these salary increases are attached to your appraisal system, it might be possible to ask for an earlier review to increase your earnings more quickly. 

Desired Division or Department

In general, not all jobs are created equal within an organization. Find out as much as possible about your options before you accept an offer. If you decide that certain divisions appeal to you more than others, let it be known before you sign. Your specific work assignment might be a factor that can be negotiated. 

Relocation Expenses

Some employers may provide relocation benefits to help you move to the community where the employer is located. This may include travel to the community to look for a home or apartment, mortgage assistance, cost of moving possessions and vehicles, and/or hotel and food expenses until you are settled. It also may be in the form of a signing bonus, which is simply an agreed upon amount of money given to you when you accept the offer. If an employer does not present these benefits, you might want to consider negotiating for them.

Making the Best Decision 

Making the best decision involve a host or factors. Visit the Career Center to learn more about effective decision-making. At the very least, you should look at job offers as they relate to your individual, family, and career goals. 

Individual Needs and Goals

  • Does this job match your interests, values, skills, and benefits?
  • Does it provide the lifestyle, prestige, independence, creativity, security, and economic returns you are looking for in a job? 

Family Goals

  • Does this job accommodate your needs and lifestyle preference with regard to your family?
  • Is the geographical location conducive to you and your family’s hobbies, community activities, and social support groups? 

Career Goals

  • Is the nature of the employer, the job’s pay and benefits, and the work activities what you are looking for in a job?
  • What is the employer’s reputation?
  • Is the salary adequate for your needs?
  • Will you be given significant responsibility?
  • Are the surroundings and people pleasant? 

Negotiate the Offer

Once you have decided on an offer to accept, you will need to take the following steps to ensure an effective negotiation:

Decide the Conditions 

It is important to determine what you want from the offer., but it is also important to know the minimum you will take from an offer. Create a plan that will allow flexibility. 

For example, if you ask for more salary but the organization cannot offer more money, would you be willing to take a signing bonus instead? Remember, you only have one opportunity to get the most from this offer, so thoroughly plan prior to any negotiation. 

Negotiate With One Organization

Only negotiate with one organization at a time. Don’t spend time and energy negotiating with the organization that is your second or third choice until is it clear that your first choices is no longer an option. 

Call Early

If you make your decision early, by all means call the organization and begin negotiations. The earlier you negotite, the more likely that the organization has not filled all of their positions and could be more inclined to negotiate with you. 

Maintain Professionalism

Many candidates make the mistake of becoming too casual after they have received an offer. Remember, the person you are negotiating with may be your supervisor or your colleague. 

Negotiation From a Point of Power

Two strategies are typically used to negotiate effectively. The first involves going to the employer with a competing from another organization. Having a higher competing offer for the same type of position within the same industry is an effective negotiating strategy. Never lie – employers communicate with each other. 

Or, present the employer with research about salaries in the field and cost of living and/or market demand for your credentials. Research that includes these items will give you a stronger position from which to negotiate. Just make sure your statistics accurately represent your background and the type of job being sought.

Regardless of which strategy you choose, focus on the total package. Look for creative ways to achieve your objective. 

Make Decision

Be prepared to make decision once the organization has started their final offer. It is not appropriate to try to hold out for more time or another offer. 

Commit Fully

Once you make decision, let your employer know that you’re with them 100 percent. No one wants someone to work for them who acts like they would rather be somewhere else. 

Put It In Writing

Declination Letters

Declining an offer should be done in writing and as soon as you accept another position. This is an important step because you may need this contact later on, so never burn your bridges. 

Acceptance Letters 

Acceptance letters are extremely important in restating your understanding of the offer. Include salary, location, starting date and time, any perks or signing bonuses negotiated, and other factors that you feel were vague.