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Negotiating and Accepting an Offer

A successful interview should lead to an offer. It is only then that you are in a position to negotiate.

What is important to you? Thinking about your values will help you remember that a job offer is not just about salary; it includes other things, such as location, job stability, benefits, independence, work environment, an emphasis on teamwork – or not, opportunities for personal growth, recognition, freedom to make decisions, stress level (low or high), variety, challenge, and competition.

Decide on a satisfactory and realistic minimum salary that coincides with the type of job offered. Establish a budget. Don’t accept an offer if the salary doesn’t cover your expenses, or you’ll be looking for another job before you fully learn your current one. If an employer makes an offer that is below your expectation, consider starting the conversation by asking what the benefits include, to ensure that you don’t offend anyone.

  1. "I am very interested in the position, but I would like to discuss the salary."
  2. "I am really excited about this position, but the offer was lower than I expected."

Support your case by stating your skills, the average salary range for your level of experience in your field. It is best to pause and let the employer respond. Follow the employer’s lead.

Most employers’ offers fall into one the categories below:

  • Fixed Offer: Negotiating won't do you any good. Their offers are on a take it or leave it basis, so don’t waste your time.
  • Pay-Grade System: This is the most common system. Positions have a set salary range and you will be paid within this range based on your experience and the duties associated with the job. You may be able to negotiate within the salary range.

Therefore, it’s possible that you may not be able to negotiate a higher salary. However, you may be able to increase your compensation in benefits. Negotiable areas sometimes include: relocation package, where applicable; vacation time (usually for senior employees), educational reimbursement and salary review (possibly after three months instead of six months or a year).

The person with whom you may be negotiating could possibly be your supervisor, so be polite and assertive, but not aggressive. Try to make it a win-win situation. You don’t want to win the higher salary but lose respect for coming across as being arrogant or too self-centered.

Get It In Writing

Avoid confusion by asking for a letter of employment that explains all of agreed upon employment conditions, (i.e. salary and benefits). This way, if there is confusion at a later date, you will have a written document to refer to stating the conditions under which you were hired. This document is especially important if the conditions of your employment differ from normal company policies.