You have survived months of job searching—targeting the type of position you wanted to look for, writing the resumes and cover letters, networking, applying, interviewing—and then repeating all of the above several times.

When the job offers begin to roll in, the hard work doesn't end. Making the best decision is not easy. It is a challenge that you have been working for—so you need to prepare for the final step of the challenge: negotiating the offer.

Know Yourself

Depending on the market, negotiating can be risky. Before you start any type of negotiation, be sure to clearly define your own personal goals. Remember that salary is not the only thing to consider. Think also of the following:

  • Job Security
  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Coworkers
  • Advancement Opportunities
  • Reputation of the company
  • Size
  • Growth Potential
  • Product diversification
  • Location

Also consider: Are you comfortable negotiating?

Know the Company and Industry

Do more research to find out:

  • Current demand on job market - supply & demand
  • Urgency to fill the position
  • Size and financial strength of the company
  • Who "pulls the strings" (makes the decisions)?
  • Can the company negotiate?

Go to research companies.

Know Your Market Value

What is the market currently worth? What are others in the field being paid? How do salaries compare in different cities?

Salary and Market Information

Cost of Living Information

Examine Your Priorities

What things are most important to you? Money may not be a driving force. Being close to family, a satisfactory relationship with supervisor or co-workers, or having a good health plan may be more important to you.  

Potential areas to consider:

  • Salary
  • Promised Increases
  • Yearly Bonuses
  • Signing Bonuses
  • Profit Sharing
  • Stock Options/ESOPs
  • Benefits
  • Overtime/Comp Time
  • Company Car
  • Travel Awards
  • Relocation Assistance
  • Expense Coverage
  • Location
  • Opportunities for Advancement
  • Other

Types of benefits packages:

  • Free Standing:
    • Each benefit is considered separately
  • Cafeteria - Flexible Benefits
    • Certain $ allocated
    • Important to find out how often changes can be made.
  • Life Cycle
    • Needs differ for different employees (similar to cafeteria plans)
    • Example: An older employees might want family medical leave to care for aging parents; younger employees might want a free health facility membership and daycare assistance.
  • Personal Benefits
    • Company exclusive
    • Example: One company may offer free meals, and another may offer free tuition for dependents

General questions to ask regarding coverage:

  • When does coverage begin? Some begin on the first day of work, some after 30 days, some after one year, and some on the first day of the following month. (So, if your parents insurance runs out when you graduate, you might not be covered.)
  • Who is covered? Does it cover other family members, or future family members?
  • Are there any monthly costs that might make a difference in your take home pay?
  • Are any of the benefits taxable (life insurance is an example of a benefit that can be taxed at the end of the year.)

Questions to consider:

Health Insurance

  • What is the employer's contribution?
  • Are there deductibles or co-pays?
  • Are there pre-existing condition waiting periods?
  • Any lifetime caps on medical/mental health benefits?
  • Can you choose any doctor?

Vision / Hearing Insurance

  • What is covered?
  • Deductibles?
  • Annual or lifetime maximums?
  • What does it cover?

Life Insurance And Accidental Death

  • Term or whole life?
  • Can it be continued if you leave?
  • Coverage for spouse and/or dependents?

Short Term/Long Term disability

  • How do pre-existing conditions affect this?
  • What is the waiting period before it begins?

Dental Insurance

  • What is the employer's contribution?
  • What is covered?
  • Preventative?
  • Surgical Care?
  • Orthodontics?
  • Deductibles, co-payments?

Retirement And Investment Programs

  • What type(s) does the company offer?
  • Retirement Plans
  • 401k's
  • Pension Plans
  • Supplemental Retirement Annuities
  • Investments
  • Profit Sharing
  • Stock Options/ESOPs


You've been offered a job—and now it's time to negotiate. How do you get started?

There are two reasons why you would want to negotiate:

  • You have received an unacceptable offer, but you are still interested in working for the company


  • You have received an acceptable offer but want to see if there is a way to get a desired benefit or salary increase.

Don't know if the offer is acceptable or unacceptable? Get more information about the job if that will help you decide. Questions may include:

  • What is the salary range?
  • What is the hiring salary range?
  • Do you ever pay higher than that range?
  • What is the average increase?
  • How often are employees reviewed?

Unacceptable Offer:
If your offer is truly unacceptable, you must communicate this fact in no uncertain terms to the decision maker while keeping the outlook for resolution positive.

Example: “I am still very interested in working with you and your company: however (never use the word ‘but’), at this point I am not able to accept the offer for the following reason (state your reasoning succinctly and what part or parts of the offer are lacking). If you were able to ……… (give your proposed solution), I would gladly accept the position immediately. Are you in a position to be able to help?"

Key elements of this approach

  • Puts the job offer at risk, since you are asking for a different offer
  • You must communicate specifically what is lacking in the initial offer

  • You must provide a proposed solution and reassure the employer that if your stipulations are met you will definitively accept

  • Indicate when you will make your decision and stick to it.

  • “If it is within your power” appeals to the position and their power

  • Be ready to consider alternatives, if necessary, i.e., Hiring bonus or relocation assistance in lieu of higher pay 

Avoid commitment words: always, must have, deal breaker, never, won't consider.

Acceptable Offer:
When starting negotiations on an acceptable offer it's important to do two things:
1) Formally accept the position
2) Approach your future supervisor by asking him/her for his assistance in meeting your further needs, giving him/her an opportunity to show his power within the company.

Example: "I'm calling you with some very good news. I would like to accept your offer and I'm looking forward to working with you and becoming a valuable member of the team. I am committed to working with you, and as my future supervisor there are a few minor issues about the offer that I would like to discuss. I don't know if you able to make changes in these areas, but I'd surely appreciate your looking into that possibility. Namely, would it be possible to...?"

  • This locks in your acceptance and takes that acceptance out of the negotiations.
  • Works because it is a Win / Win situation
  • Give reasons why you want something. These do not include "I just bought a new boat, house", etc.


You have negotiated and decided to accept the offer. There are some things to keep in mind at this stage.

Job Offer Guidelines & Ethics

  • Acknowledge the offer with appreciation immediately.
  • Is there a contract to sign?
  • Do you need to submit a formal acceptance letter?
  • Clarify all aspects before accepting. Keep careful notes.
  • Remember that an employer has the right to withdraw the offer any time prior to its acceptance.
  • Obtain everything in writing.

REMEMBER! After Accepting an Offer:

  • Let all other organizations know of your acceptance. Do not continue to search!
    Accepting a new job offer, after you have already accepted an offer with another employer, is defined as ‘reneging’ and is one of the most serious professional offenses in the job search process. Learn more about reneging.
  • Write thank you to everyone, including references and anyone else who helped.
  • Notify the Pomerantz Career Center of your acceptance.
  • Keep track of career search expenses. Many are tax deductible.