Negotiating offers

Many job candidates get caught up in the moment when they receive an offer. While it’s tempting to immediately accept a position, it’s usually a good idea to tell your potential employer that you need time to consider the offer before responding.

You may feel compelled to try and “push the envelope” a bit to see if you can elicit a better compensation package (salary and benefits) from the employer. Proceed with caution. Negotiation is sometimes reasonable, but keep in mind that you risk losing the opportunity to another candidate.

There are a few cases in which the terms of your job offer may be negotiable, but you need to be well prepared to make the case effectively. Know the market, the value of your skills and experiences, and how competitive the pool may be.

Consult a career advisor for assistance.

When is negotiation justified? 

  • You have higher offers from the same and other industries.
  • You have directly relevant past work experience/internships that are beyond the qualifications sought for the position.
  • You have skills above and beyond requirements of the position.
  • Offer does not reflect your past work experience/internship skills.
  • Offer does not reflect your transferable skills.
  • The average salary for graduates/students in this industry, or function, or with this type of work experience is higher than the offer.

What is negotiable?

  • How much time you have to respond to the offer
  • A one-time sign-on bonus (in some industries)
  • Start date
  • Early performance reviews
  • A title promotion and raise after 6 months or a year
  • Moving/relocation costs
  • Professional memberships
  •  Help finding employment for spouse
  • Travel reimbursement
  •  Laptops and devices for business
  • Work schedule
  • Time off
  • Salary

Salary negotiation 

To negotiate effectively, start by taking a good look at your own salary requirements as well as what your skills are worth in the current employment market.

Follow these best practices:

  • Research and understand the salary ranges before you begin the interviewing process.
  • Have a realistic understanding of your skills and what they are worth to different segments of the economy and in a variety of industry settings.
  • Avoid stating a specific figure.
  • When completing application forms, be sure to use "open," "negotiable" or "competitive".  
  • Factor the organization's entire compensation package (i.e., tuition benefits, investment options, health plan, and any perks) along with salary into your negotiation discussion.
  • When an interviewer asks for a salary history or salary range, he or she is interested in establishing a starting point for negotiation. Avoid basing your desired salary on your current salary. Be honest about your past salary and references.
  • When stating a salary range, it is acceptable to extend the range to approximately 10% - 20% more.
  • Determine opportunities for promotion. Job progression is an important factor in making salary decisions. Ask how promotions and salary reviews are handled

Understanding salary and benefits 

Many job candidates only consider salary when determining whether or not to accept an offer. However, it’s important to keep in mind the additional benefits, both tangible and intangible that come with any new opportunity.

Health, dental and vision insurance, employer contributions to retirement savings, bonuses and time off all have value. If you had to acquire these things on the open market, you would have to pay for them. Be sure to factor these non-salary benefits into your decision.



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Division of Student Success
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Box 842007
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2007

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