How to Negotiate Job Offers Like a Pro

So you’ve just had a successful job interview, and it looks like an offer will be forthcoming. You’re excited to finally have the opportunity to work in the field that you’ve been studying for the past four years. As you prepare to receive your first job offer, what are the types of things you should be considering?

Before You Walk in the Door

The first thing you should do prior to even walking in the door for an interview is to know what you’re worth. Do your research. Having access to as much information as possible will put you in a stronger position to negotiate. Sites like Salary, Payscale, Glassdoor, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics can give you a detailed breakdown of the average starting salary for the position you are interviewing for while taking into account a wide variety of other factors, including location, certifications, and education level.

Talk to the people you know who work at the company or in the industry. ASK is a great resource that can connect you with DePaul alumni working in your field of study. Have a firm idea of what you are worth before you even schedule your first interview.

Conduct a Self-Assessment

As a fresh grad, you may be wondering if you even have the right to negotiate a job offer. This is where a self-assessment can come in handy. Ask yourself: What can you offer this employer that other candidates cannot? Do you have any certifications? Are you intimately familiar with their products or services because you’ve worked for one of their customers in the past? Are the skills you obtained in school unique to the location of the employer? If you have a sense of your value in the marketplace you will have the confidence to negotiate successfully.

If you have a sense of your value in the marketplace you will have the confidence to negotiate successfully.

Find out what’s important to the company; ask the hiring manager what he or she considers the most urgent business needs. If you really want to impress your future employer, type up a plan for what you believe you can accomplish in the first 90 days and hand it to them. This can increase your value immensely and can be used as leverage if you decide to negotiate.

When to Start Negotiating

Remember to hold off the salary discussion for as long as possible. Your job is to make them fall in love with you throughout the interview process, so that when you do get to the offer stage, they’re already feeling like they can’t live without you.

When the employer does ask your salary requirements, you should first try to deflect and tell them that your larger concerns are things like job stability, growth opportunities, and culture fit. If they continue to press, avoid giving a specific number. Instead, give them a range and reference your source (i.e. one of the websites listed above) so they know you aren’t pulling those numbers from thin air. Be comfortable with an offer anywhere in that range, and make sure you have a bottom line number that you’re willing to accept. 

The Whole Package

There are many things to take into account when negotiating other than just your base salary. You want to look at the entire compensation package, which includes your benefits. Benefits can comprise insurance, vacation time, tuition reimbursement, stock options, relocation expenses, professional membership fees, gym memberships, flexible work options, and unpaid leave time.

Some or all of these things may be negotiable, but as a fresh grad, you may want to focus on things that will allow you to be a better performer. For example, it may not necessarily be wise to try to ask for more vacation time up front; you haven’t necessarily earned that yet. Instead, you may want to ask for a new laptop or smartphone if you know you’ll be working outside of the office. Remember, you want to backup whatever you ask for with a reason for why you think you need or deserve it.

Now, just because you can negotiate your job offer doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. Some industries are also more conducive to salary negotiation than others. For example, highly structured sectors like the government or military will not have negotiable salaries.

If you’ve received what you perceive to be a fair offer at a company that has a clear path for advancement and where you will be working on projects that excite you, it’s ok to accept the offer as is. However, even if you plan to do this, it’s always wise to give yourself at least 24 hours to review the offer and talk about it with a family member or trusted advisor. No legitimate company will force you to give your acceptance on the spot. You should take that time granted to you to really make sure this is an offer you’re happy with.

…it’s always wise to give yourself at least 24 hours to review the offer…

If you would like to speak in detail about how to negotiate your own job offer, be sure to schedule an appointment with your career advisor!

10 Tips for Job Search Success

By: Tara Golenberke, marketing professional in the education industry, and former digital media & marketing manager at the DePaul Career Center

In the midst of searching for a job or internship that feeds your passions and interests? Or, perhaps you’ve already found a killer opportunity and are now journeying through the interview process. No matter what stage you’re at in the job search, you’ll want to have these ten tips under your belt.

Honesty is the best policy

Be real with employers. This includes being honest on your online profile, resume and cover letter. Upholding integrity is integral during the interviewing and job offer process.

Adulting, and conducting yourself professionally

Be prompt for interviews, dress professionally and come prepared. Preparation is key, so research the organization in advance and prepare questions for the interviewer.

Where the magic happens vs. your comfort zone

Networking gets a bad rap. The truth is, people want to help you; professionals are ready to talk to you about their industry or job, and are willing to build a relationship with you and eventually allow you to tap into their connections, you just need to speak up and make a move. Step outside of your comfort zone, call a new contact, network, ask questions and for help—you’ll not only come out of it alive, you may just end up with a new career opportunity.

Give your oh-so-wonderful references a heads-up

Reach out to potential reference candidates, catch up and kindly ask them if they would be willing to attest to your qualifications and act as a reference during your job search. Never provide the contact information of your references—or potential referenceswithout chatting with those individuals first; Get a confirmation that they are willing to be a reference and update them on your job search and applications.

It’s the 21st century—Brush up on your video interview skills

You may find that employers will request an initial screening interview through Skype or a Google Hangout. Improve your knowledge of video tools and presentation techniques beforehand by visiting with your career advisor. And, if you’re wondering what not to do in a video interview, enjoy this clip.

Don’t feel obligated to accept all interviews or second interviews

If you are not interested in accepting an interview or continuing on in the process, always inform the employer as soon as possible, thanking them for their time. On the other hand, continue on in the interview process if you want to learn more about an opportunity. If there are a number of aspects of the job that you like, continuing the process can help you make an informed decision.

Ask for more time to make a decision, you’re allowed

If you have reservations about an internship or job offer, or are actively interviewing with other companies, know that it is OK to contact an employer to see if you can be given more time to make a decision.

Red flag: Don’t apply for jobs once you have accepted an offer

If the employer sees that you are pursuing other opportunities after accepting his/her offer, you can risk your reputation and offer with that organization. If you have doubts about an offer, take more time to decide and weigh your options before accepting.

Consider the whole shebang

Evaluate all benefits including vacation time, retirement packages, tuition assistance and salary. Determine cost of living to help you make a decision about salary. Also, evaluate the type of work you will be doing, who your manager and co-workers will be and where the company is located.

Hot topic: To negotiate compensation packages, or not?

Lovin’ the compensation package that was just handed to you? Don’t feel obligated to negotiate the package with an employer. It is not necessary if you feel the employer is making you a fair offer based on your skills, experience and market value for the position.


Have more questions about the application, interview or job offer process? Get in touch with your career advisor! Career advisors can assist you during all steps of the internship and job search process. Find out which career advisor is working with your college by visiting the Career Center website.

 

Your Guide to Following Up After the Interview

Job interviews can be nerve-racking. Even if they go well, many people breathe a huge sigh of relief once they’re over. But before you celebrate too early, keep in mind that how you handle yourself after the interview is just as important as the interview itself. So, while it’s okay to treat yourself for a job well done, there are a few additional steps you want to take to maintain professionalism and good standing beyond the interview.

Send Personalized Thank You Letters

The most crucial step to take after an interview is to deliver a thank you letter to everyone you spoke with; these letters should ideally be sent out 24-48 hours after an interview when the information and discussions are still fresh in your mind. Doing so will also help demonstrate your enthusiasm for the potential employer.

In terms of format, email thank you letters are appropriate and may be easier to complete if you spoke with a number of people at one company. However, we consistently hear from employers that thank you letters received in the mail always stand out, as it shows the applicant went the extra mile to find a card, write a message by hand, and send it off. Since most employers rarely receive mail that isn’t directly tied to their role, personalized thank you letters can stand out in a significant way.

Keep Up with the Employer

Most employers will give you a timeline for when they intend to move forward in the interview process or make a hiring decision. It’s important to honor that timeline and not be too eager to find out where you stand. For example, if an employer says they intend to make a hiring decision by December 12th, don’t contact them about the status of the position until after that deadline has passed. Reaching out sooner won’t make you seem enthusiastic; rather, it may give the impression that you are impatient, or that you don’t know how to follow directions. Best to wait it out, and then follow-up via email. If an employer doesn’t give you a timeline for when they intend to make a decision, it’s best to wait 7-10 business days before following up.

When you do follow-up, send a brief email to let the employer know that you are still interested in the position and that you were just writing to check the status of the hiring process. This is a non-aggressive way to let them know you are still passionate about the role.

If another two weeks go by and you still haven’t heard from the employer, it’s okay to send one final email to check the status of the position.

Review Salary Expectations

If you’re applying to a full-time job, you may be faced with having to negotiate a salary and benefits package. Take some time after an interview to research the average salary for the position you applied for, both at the national and local level, and evaluate your financial obligations to determine a salary range you would be comfortable communicating in the negotiation stage.

Visit your career advisor to learn more about salary statistics pertaining to your major or career path, as well as to develop a negotiation strategy specific to the position. We can also help if you are juggling multiple offers and need assistance on how to communicate with employers professionally.

Next Steps

Need help crafting a thank you note or follow-up email? Check out our Job Search Letters packet on our website for thank you letter examples. And, if you’re emailing an employer to follow-up on the hiring process, you are welcome to send a rough draft of that email to your career advisor for suggestions and feedback. Finally, if you have questions regarding salary, reach out to your career advisor for additional tips so that you feel comfortable and confident during the negotiating process.