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Managing and Negotiating Job Offers

Congratulations! You have received a job offer! Your job search, interview preparation, and thank you note(s) to the interviewer(s) have paid off. Now what? Are you prepared to decide whether to accept or decline the offer? Do not immediately accept or decline the job offer. Rather, allow time to review and evaluate the offer to determine if it represents your desired position, salary, and benefits. The goal is to determine whether accepting the job offer is in your best interest. To ensure you are effective in your job offer evaluation, review the steps below on managing and negotiating a job offer.

Step 1. Reviewing the Job Offer

You may receive a job offer over the phone or by email. If you receive a job offer over the phone, ask for information about the offer, thank the employer for the offer, and ask for the offer in writing. Always inform the employer that you will get back to them with a decision.

Carefully review the job offer to ensure you know and understand the details before responding to the offer. Typically, elements of a job offer include:

  • Job title and type (part-time, full-time, exempt, or non-exempt)
  • Employment start date
  • Contact information
  • Deadline to accept the offer
  • Salary, hourly wage, bonuses
  • Location (traveling to other offices & expenses covered)
  • Benefits information (health, life insurance, retirement plan, sick time, vacation, education reimbursement)
  • Housing (provided or not provided)

Step 2. Confirming Receipt of Job Offer

After receiving the job offer in writing, always respond to the employer to let them know you have received it, regardless of whether you are considering accepting or declining it.

Not considering the job offer

If you know you don't want the position, respond to the employer, and let them know you appreciate their time and consideration, but you have decided to go in a different direction. Be pleasant and polite with your response. If the job is not what you are looking for, don't accept the offer to have a secure job and continue job searching.

Sample Response
Dear [recipients name],
Thank you for the job offer for the [title of the position] with [company name]. While I enjoyed your team's interview process and professionalism, I will not be accepting the position. After carefully evaluating this job, I have decided that it does not align with my career goals [add your reason for declining the job offer].
I want to express my gratitude for the job offer and my regrets that it didn't work out at this time.
With gratitude,

Considering the job offer

If you are considering the job offer, follow up immediately with the employer. Call or send an email to confirm, convey enthusiasm and thank them for the offer. Let the employer know that you will review the offer and will provide a response by the date specified. If you have questions about the offer, ask for clarification. If you need additional time to review the job offer, inquire about the process, as the employer has their own needs to fulfill. Review steps 3 - 4 to learn how to approach the negotiation process.

Sample Response
Dear [recipients name],
I am excited about this offer to join [company's name] team. I want to take some time to review the job offer materials enclosed in the email before providing you with an answer. Could I let you know my decision by the deadline noted in the email? Who can I contact if I have any questions regarding the information enclosed?
Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Best Regards,

Step 3. Evaluating the Job Offer

Develop your ideal job criteria to help you evaluate whether the job offers you receive align with your career interests, values, vocational calling, salary, benefits, and the quality of life you desire.

Use the Ideal Job handout to help you define your ideal job criteria and evaluate the job offer against your perfect job. Below are some questions you can factor into your decision.

  • How will this job benefit your personal and professional career goals?
  • Does the company's culture align with your values?
  • What type of professional development opportunities are offered?
  • Will you enjoy this job?
  • Is this your ideal job? How close is this job to your ideal job?
  • Are you getting a good offer?
  • Are you satisfied with the salary offer? Does the salary fit your lifestyle?
  • Are there opportunities for promotions and career advancement?
  • Is the commute or relocation manageable?
  • When do evaluations take place? Are evaluations used to determine promotions or pay increases?
  • Are you satisfied with the benefits package (vacation, sick, work schedule, retirement plan, health, and life insurance)?

Step 4. Negotiating the Job Offer

Before negotiating a job offer, research the job market to learn about your work and experience value to determine if the salary or hourly wage is a fair offer. If the salary and benefits are reasonable, you may decide to accept the offer without negotiation. However, if you want to negotiate your salary or benefits, you must be prepared to negotiate. If you decide to counteroffer, have a value mindset of what you offer to the employer. Keep the negotiation an open dialogue and not a list of demands.

Be respectful, reasonable, and practical throughout the negotiation process. Use the salary resources noted below to learn about fair compensation for recent college graduates and junior and senior positions. Recognize that some entry-level positions may have higher salaries in larger cities, but you'll have higher living costs. Junior and senior-level positions may have more flexibility in the negotiation process.

Salary Offer and Negotiation: Review the job offer to ensure you receive a fair salary and compensation package.

  • Is the salary what you expected? What is your salary/pay range?
  • What is your job worth?
  • Are you able to afford your lifestyle? Cost of living?
  • Can you negotiate a pay increase after a successful performance evaluation?
  • Are you prepared to negotiate your salary? Is the employer open to negotiation?
  • What can you offer the employer (knowledge, experience, skills)?

Salary Resources:

Benefits Package: Review the benefits offered by the employer, including sick time, vacation, employment location and relocation, retirement plan, health, and life insurance. If the employer did not include this information in the job offer or if you have questions, contact the employer. A low salary offer can be balanced with a great benefits package.

  • What benefits or perks are you looking to receive from an employer?
  • Does the employer offer retirement plans? What is the employer's contribution? What is your contribution?
  • What health package does the employer offer? Does the employer cover a substantial portion of your health care?
  • How many hours of vacation and sick time does the employer offer? Can you negotiate a flex work schedule or additional vacation days?
  • If the job is not in your ideal location, can you request a relocation within the company after a couple of years?