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.