Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers
You’ve engaged in a job search and navigated the interviewing process.  You may have even gone on a second or third round interview.  You are very interested in the job and the employer and you think this would be a great position.  Finally, you receive an offer – congratulations!  Perhaps, though, you’ve interviewed at several places, and have other offers you hope are forthcoming.  Alternately, you may have just come across an excellent opportunity for which you still wish to apply.  The employer making the offer has given you a deadline and expects an answer very soon.  What should you do?  Here are some general factors to consider:

  • Is this offer your first choice?  If so, great!  After careful deliberation, you may feel comfortable accepting this offer quickly.  However, if you have completed other interview processes and are waiting for those employers to make hiring decisions, call the employers of interest and inquire as to your status in the process.  If no decision has been made, inquire about their time frames; indicate you are still very interested in the position but that you have another offer that requires your response.
  • If an employer expects a quick decision, do not be afraid to ask for more time to consider the offer; this is a very important decision about your future and should be handled accordingly. 
  • Ensure that you receive the offer, and all related details, in writing.  This written offer should include information about the offered salary, start date anticipated, the date by which you are expected to respond, and any supplementary materials about benefits, etc.
  • In your evaluation of an offer, there are a number of important considerations to take into account; these include, for example, salary; healthcare, retirement, vacation and other benefit packages; the organizational culture; and the personalities of your supervisor and co-workers.  The importance you place on each characteristic is a function of your individual values.  As you evaluate the offer, reflect carefully on and prioritize what is most important to you: is it that you love what you do?  The amount of money you earn?  Even if salary is not the factor of most importance you to, it is practical to research the marketplace to ensure you are being compensated fairly.  Resources such as Salary.com offer interactive tools you can use to gather information about what others earn for similar work in your industry and in your geographic location. 
  • If through your research you determine that the offer is relatively low, but there are other aspects of the position that you find appealing, you might choose to try to negotiate the offer.  Some tips to consider as you approach negotiating an offer:
  • Consider your experience: Those with more related experience have more leverage in the salary negotiation process.  If you lack experience at this point, be realistic about your salary expectations. 
  • How much money you need is irrelevant.  When discussing salary with your potential boss, don’t mention that you need to make more money because your student loans or living expenses are costly.
  • Instead, focus on how much money you deserve. Based on your research, discuss how the salaries in your field compare.  Discuss specifically how you will earn the salary you’ve requested by highlighting what you will accomplish in the position and how you will provide value to the organization.
  • Be flexible and willing to compromise. Realize that you may not be offered the exact salary for which you’ve asked, especially in a down economy or in a more competitive job market.  Prior to beginning the discussion, determine the bottom-line figure you will accept.  Have a plan in place if, even after negotiating, the offer is less than that figure.      
  • A verbal acceptance is considered a firm commitment
  • Do not accept, verbally or in writing, a position until you are certain you wish to take it
  • Take sufficient time to consider all of your options
  • Be sure to request all offers in writing
  • Once you accept a position, do not continue to interview with other organizations; cancel all pending interviews and withdraw from searches to which you have submitted your resume and cover letter. 

The Career Development Center staff is available to assist you at any stage in the process of career decision making, including evaluating offers and researching and negotiating salary.   Please feel free to call (610) 660-3100 to speak with a counselor briefly, or to schedule an appointment for a more in-depth discussion of your situation.