How to Negotiate a Job Offer

You've received a job offer, congratulations!  But now what?  Use the information below as a guide for how to negotiate a job offer including salary, benefits, and more.  If you have additional questions, make an appointment to meet with your career advisor, Laura Lemza, by logging in to HireVCURams.

What to say while negotiating a job offer:

  1. Do your homework. You should know the typical pay range for the position you are applying for in the local area. Use O*Net, Glassdoor, and to compare rates on several sites.
  2. Thank the employer for the offer, tell them that you are very interested in the job, you like the company, the work, the culture, etc.
  3. Point out that you are interested in working for the company and that they want you to work for them, so hopefully you can come to an agreement.
  4. You hope that they recognize you as an outstanding candidate and one deserving of the top pay within their budgeted range.
  5. Give them a range (typically $3k to $5k), and make the bottom number of that range a number that would please you.  For example, if you are shooting for $50,000, give the company a range of $50,000 - $55,000.
  6. Give the company a reason to increase the offer and stress the value you are bringing to the company that makes you worth more than the originally offered salary. For example:
    • The average starting pay in this area is higher than what they have offered
    • You already have specific skills or knowledge that they are seeking
    • You have contacts/customer relationships that would benefit the company
    • You have another offer (don't bluff, this should be true!)

Other points to possibly negotiate:

  • Bonus
  • Location of the job
  • Relocation allowance
  • The length of time until your first review (potential pay increase/promotion)
  • Reimbursement for travel
  • Vacation hours

Negotiating tips:

  • In general, allow the employer to bring up the topic of salary and benefits.
  • It is best to have the employer tell you their hiring range of pay, rather than you stating your own range. You don't want to go too low (where they will be happy to meet you, but you may leave money on the table), and you don't want to go too high (and price yourself out of the market). Let them state the range, then negotiate from there.
  • Always stay upbeat, positive, and professional. You want to work for the company and they want you. You have a common goal. The purpose of the negotiation is to come to a solution so that you can join the team.
  • When you ask, pause and wait for the other person to speak next. It may be uncomfortable, but once you've stated what you want, wait.
  • Don't negotiate so hard that you ruin the relationship. You have to work with these people. A new hire typically enjoys a "honeymoon period" where they are given the benefit of the doubt as they learn their new role. Don't ruin the honeymoon by being too difficult in the rate of pay negotiation.

Things to remember:

  • Your starting pay matters.  Pay increases are typically a percentage of your current rate. Therefore, one's rate of pay will likely be compounded over time and starting with an appropriate salary will make a big difference over time.
  • The job itself, the culture, the location, and the benefits are all part of the offer package, not just the salary.

Helpful books:

  • Knock 'Em Dead - The Ultimate Job Search Guide 2015 by Martin Yates (See chapter on Negotiating the Offer)
  • Ask For It - How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation by Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever