Did you know?
According to a LinkedIn survey of over 300,000 professionals, 85% of candidates who negotiated a job offer were effective in their negotiations?
Negotiating an offer for a job or internship can feel insurmountable, especially if you've never done it before. Being able to understand just what an offer for a position within a company means and ensuring you are receiving appropriate value for your work is an essential skill to ensure your success throughout your entire career.
It's important to remember that a job or internship is much more than just a salary. When thinking about accepting a job or internship offer, consider the experience you could gain in the position, the opportunities for developing a network, and the values of the organization.
Frequently Asked Questions for Negotiating and Reviewing Offers
An offer as the extension of a job or internship opportunity to a prospective employee. Typically this will come in the form of an offer letter, which is a one to three page document outlining the stipulations for the work opportunity. While offer letters are typically short and varied depending on the employer, most contain the following details:
- The name of the company, as well as the title of the position you are being offered
- Your salary, as well as a brief summary of your other compensation (ex. benefits, perks, bonuses)
- Start date (as well as end date if it is a temporary position, such as an internship)
- Employment terms, such as if you are a full-time or part-time employee, or a temporary employee
If any information is missing from the offer letter that is important to you, you can ask for it to be added. If you are not provided an offer letter, you can and should request one, as it is the official documentation of a job offer.
The short answer: Every time you get a job offer.
The long answer: Many times, entry level positions don't have a lot of flexibility in negotiating. However, whenever you get a job offer, you should broach the topic of negotiation. Typically, if someone calls you to offer a job or internship, you'll want to take two important steps.
- Ask if there is any flexibility on the salary or other compensation.
- Ask for an appropriate amount of time to make a decision.
Asking for flexibility on the salary and other types of compensation is a good way to invite the conversation of negotiating. Most recruiters or hiring managers want to try to get you to accept an offer, so they will be less likely to give a flat "no" and more likely to say something like "what do you have in mind?"
No matter what they say, asking for time to make a decision is essential. You will need time to review the offer, potential benefits, and your own situation to see if it is appropriate. An employer should be able to give you at least a few days. Be leery of an employer that asks for a decision immediately - at least 24 hours is appropriate.
Get yourself into the right mindset
One of the trickiest parts of negotiating is taking emotion out of it. People often see salary offers as someone placing a monetary value on their own worth, and that's not the case. Often times companies only have a specific range in which they can offer a potential salary. Your goal should be to find a salary that is appropriate so you and the employer can feel good.
Most employers expect you to negotiate
Sometimes negotiating feels like you are trying to take more money from someone, but a hiring manager is typically paying you out of their budget, not their own pockets.
Negotiating isn't asking for more money - it's explaining your value to a potential employer
Walking into a negotiation with the mindset you are "worth" more money is a dangerous proposition. Instead, identify the experience and skills you have that the employer may not have taken into account to help leverage a higher salary. For example, if the job description asks for 1-3 years of experience, you can show the employer how you are at the higher end of that experience range, and as a result have an expectation for a salary that's more commensurate to that experience level. Review the job description for places where you meet and exceed expectations ahead of the negotiation conversation.
Determine what you would need from a job offer in order to accept it - if there is something missing from a job offer or it otherwise doesn't work for you, you may have to reject an offer
An important part of identifying a salary that would work for you is making sure you will be paid a wage you can live on. When reviewing the offer, examine the salary and determine what you would need to pay your rent or mortgage, groceries, gas, and all your other living expenses. If you are not in a range to afford that, you may need to step away from this offer.
Note that most employers cannot deviate much from their offered salaries. If a job offer says $50,000 a year and you ask for $80,000, it is likely that will be rejected. Usual negotiations are for something within the range of the initial offer.
When you have your conversation, aim for confidence and avoid cockiness
Cocky people tell you they are good at something, while confident people demonstrate their value. When you are ready to have a conversation where you will be negotiating, prepare your case and lay it out simply and directly (this shouldn't be a plea, but a brief assertion of facts.)
Wait for their response
Some employers will be able to make a decision in the moment, while others will need some time to think or speak with their human resource departments. Multiple rounds of negotiation or uncommon, but be prepared that they may come back with something that is less than what you asked for and you may need to determine if that will work for you or not.
For more negotiating tips
The following articles and website offer excellent guidelines and tips for evaluating compensation packages and negotiating salary:
Through many employers list anticipated salary ranges on job postings, just as many keep that information to themselves until the job offer part of the hiring process. As a result, it's helpful to do research ahead of time to determine if the salary being offered is appropriate. Below are a few resources you can use to research salaries in your industry. Remember, geographic region plays a significant impact on salaries, so the information provided here should be seen as suggestions.
There are many factors that come into play as to whether you should accept or reject a potential offer.
If you accept the offer, in person or by phone:
Follow up with a written letter or e-mail to the person who offered you the position. The letter should include your understanding of the job details (the start date, position, title, duties, salary, and benefits).
Thank your new employer for the opportunity and express your enthusiasm -- possibly detailing specific aspects of the job to which you are looking forward.
Send thank you notes to your references and to anyone who helped you with the job search process.
If you choose to turn down a job offer:
Be very positive and professional in your tone.
Don't burn your bridges. You may find yourself applying for a job with this organization in the future. Paths cross and they may someday be your colleagues.
Keep in mind that if they found you worthy of an offer, they could become excellent references for you and serve as additional contacts in your professional network.
Send a letter that briefly explains why you’ve chosen to refuse the offered position.
Be sure to thank your employer contacts for their offer and for the time they spent with you.
UMass Policy for Students Reneging on Offers:
When you accept an offer for an internship, co-op or full-time position, both the UMass Amherst Career Center and the employer expect that you are acting in good faith and will honor that commitment. Accepting an offer only as a precautionary measure and then reneging on that commitment is considered unprofessional, unethical, and may seriously damage your future job prospects, as well as those of other UMass students and alumni.
It is your responsibility to thoroughly evaluate an offer and decide if the opportunity is right for you before accepting it, even if the company provides you with less time than you would actually like to make this decision. Once you accept an internship, co-op or full-time job, or decide to go to graduate school, AND the employer has confirmed that offer contingencies such as background checks, reference checks, or drug screens have been cleared, you should withdraw from the recruiting process. This requires that you stop applying for positions and withdraw from any interviews or discussions with employers that are actively considering you for a job.
Employers expect and value this professionalism, and it allows them to engage with other students to fill the position. If you have any questions or need help in evaluating an offer or managing offer decision timelines, please contact your UMass Career Center for help. If you renege on an acceptance, it may result in suspension of recruiting privileges including the deactivation of your Handshake account.
Many people leave money on the table by not leveraging current and previous jobs during the negotiation process. Underestimating the value of previous work experience or assuming it doesn’t “count” for a new industry can be a costly mistake. Most employers recognize the value of past jobs by focusing on the transferable skills you bring to the table. You should be using this lens also when negotiating. Phrases like “My 10 years of previous experience in customer service is directly related to this role and as such, I would like to ask for XYZ$” is one simple and direct way to get this idea across. While some companies have more negotiation room than others, you should always be prepared to speak to why and how your background gives you an edge.