Fall recruiting is in full swing here at the Office of Career Management, which means that in the next few months, our talented Fisher students are going to be receiving, evaluating and accepting internship and full-time job offers.
When you receive that first offer, your first thoughts might be along the lines of “Someone wants to pay me actual dollars??? Sure, I’ll take it! Woo hoo! Pizza for everyone, I’m rich!!!!!”
Well, hold your horses there cowboy.
While you will be excited upon an initial verbal offer, it is highly advisable to not accept the opportunity right away. Whether you end up negotiating the offer or not, “stepping back” from the initial offer for a minimum of a few days will allow you to assess the offer and identify any potential issues for negotiation.
Here are some helpful tips for negotiating your job offer:
- Negotiation discussions do not have to be conducted with the human resources representative who may have signed your letter of offer. Unless the company directs you otherwise, the best person to begin negotiation discussions with is usually the individual who has been the most consistent presence throughout the hiring process. Often, this is the recruiter who interviewed you on campus. If you are unsure of where to begin your negotiation, you can call this recruiter to ask.
- Negotiation discussions are more effective when conducted in-person versus on the telephone. You should schedule a time to discuss details of the offer in order to have the full attention of the person with whom you are negotiating. Attempting to negotiate through e-mail or letter correspondence is discouraged.
- Enter any negotiation discussion with a positive, civil, collaborative and appreciative attitude— how you negotiate will often be the first indication of how you conduct business.
- Negotiation is an exploration of options and not necessarily a win-lose proposition—stick to facts and not personalities or subjective feelings.
- While negotiation is highly recommended (you do not know what you can get unless you ask), it should not be viewed as required or a sign of weakness should you opt to accept the initial terms of the offer (a high percentage of initial offers are fair and determined by market value and your qualifications).
- While salary is important, do not get too focused or “hung up” on dollars. Think in terms of the entire salary and benefits package being offered.
- Have a clear decision in your mind regarding your “bottom lines” (salary and benefits), as well as your areas of most flexibility (salary, vacation time, bonuses, relocation expenses, etc.) prior to beginning a negotiation discussion. Decide if your strategy will be to “walk away” if the negotiation does not meet your bottom line, or if you will retreat prior to making a final decision or beginning a second round of negotiation.
- While it is common for a company to be interested in your salary history as a possible indication of your salary value in the present, do not let this become a sole indicator or rationale. Some sample responses: “My salary history has followed a steady upward path and I have never failed to receive merit increases.” OR “I was earning $___ in my last position; however, I view this position as different from my last position and my skills and qualifications to be stronger as well.”
- There will come a point in any negotiation where the company will indicate their “top salary offer.” If this salary figure is still short of your expectation based upon your research and market assessment, and you are still interested in the position, your response could establish other elements of the offer as more negotiable. A sample response to the final salary offer: “Even though the salary is not as high as I had anticipated based upon my research, I am still interested. Can we re-visit the package and see if there is anything here that is negotiable such as…(bonus, relocation expenses, performance review dates, job title, insurance, professional association fees, training schedule, tuition reimbursement, etc.).”