- Signing On -
negotiating your salary & benefits package
You may feel inclined to accept an offer without any discussion or negotiation, particularly if your job search has been a long one. That said, it is likely a better idea to take a couple of days to consider the details of the offer.
Instead of just saying “Yes!” go for something that gives you time to weigh everything up: "Thank you for the offer of employment. I really want to join your team. Can I have 48 hours to think everything through please?" In addition to asking for the 48 hours to think the offer through, ask the company to send you the details of the offer.
This is Step 1 in your negotiation. The details should include: salary, any bonus information, any stock options (do not get too caught up in these for a first job as they really are just the icing on the cake), vacation allowance, healthcare details and retirement program (is there an employer match?). A good employer will respond to your request to think it through and should send you all the information. It should be a flag if they do not.
In your 48 hour cool down period have a real think about the salary and other parts of the offer and consider if it is reasonable based on the starting salaries for you industry (your Career Office will have this information) and whether it will be enough for you to live on (not to buy a BMW and rent a penthouse, but to have an apartment in a safe area and be able to pay your monthly student loans). If it is your first job you will have little to compare the offer to, but if it is a second or third role make sure you also take into account any matching to your retirement savings plan, vacation allowance and any other pieces such as healthcare; you want to make sure that you are not losing money by making a move.
Now that you have run the numbers, know one other thing. As an Early Stage Professional you will not be in a strong bargaining position. While you are the top pick of the company that has made the offer, you won't be bringing a ton of experience to the table. This means that employers have many other possibilities out there should you be too aggressive in any counter proposal that you make.
Step 2 (after you receive the information on your package) Consult Your Career Office: Get information on starting salaries, take a look at Glassdoor for comparable salaries and work with your career consultant to get together a plan on what you should ask for.
Step 3 (this is the difficult bit) Negotiate! If you find that there are pieces of the offer that do not work for you, set up time with either the hiring manager or the HR person you have worked with to discuss the offer.
I would recommend that before getting down to the details you make it clear that you would really like to join the company. State that there are some pieces that you want to talk through before formally accepting the offer. Make sure that if you are asking for more money that you state why. For instance it may be that based on data from your career office that you are short by a meaningful amount. If you make asks around vacation then do so professionally "I obviously do not expect to spend all my year on vacation but 3 weeks is something that I hope is fair and will help me balance my professional and personal life".
Do not be surprised if the person has to then go and seek approval for what you have asked for. Just know that after this negotiation you will have to decide.
Step 4 Decide: If the company has moved on some or all of your asks then you are truly lucky! If they did not flex on anything (they may have strict policies on vacation and salary bands) do not be too disappointed. As an Early Stage Professional you are in a weak bargaining position and will not want to come across as entitled so do not expect a second round of negotiation.
If you legitimately cannot afford to live on the salary you have been offered then you will need to pass on the offer. If you feel that the salary is low, but one that you can live on and you want to accept then accept the job but do not stew on the low pay. Many of us have to accept lower paid jobs the first few times and it is ok. It is just stage one of a 45+ year career and you will have the time to earn big buck$ over those years.
Next section: How to Resign (if you already have a job) or head straight to The First Week and don't forget about the Crushing It section of this site that is designed as a quick aid for your first six months.