Understand and Negotiate Offers
Congratulations — you've received an offer! Pat yourself on the back. A great deal of hard work and energy went into your success. Now you need to decide whether to accept the position. When you receive an offer, express your excitement and thanks to the organization's representative, then ask when they would like an answer by so you have time to review and evaluate the offer.
Components of an Offer
An offer should include a job title, terms of employment, salary, indication of benefits, and a start date. In addition to salary these are typical benefits to look for:
- Health insurance — Employer provided health insurance could include medical, dental and vision and often provides cheaper pre-tax rates than you can find if you purchased health insurance on your own.
- Retirement savings plan — Retirement plans allows you to put a percentage of your gross (pre-tax) income into a trust fund or other qualified investment fund. In many cases, employers will match your contribution up to a certain percentage — this is "free" money that can add to your overall compensation package. Typically, you can take your plan with you after leaving your employer.
- Tuition reimbursement — One way to get ahead in your career is to continue learning, keeping up with the latest trends in your profession. In this case, your employer pays all or a portion of your tuition costs for classes related to the business of the company. In some cases, employers reimburse for non-business-related classes and for supplies such as books.
- Time benefits:
- Paid Time Off (PTO) — Sick, vacation and personal days count as paid days that you get to take off. Companies vary on the number of days for each and if they continue to add up each year or if you have to "use it or lose it."
- Flex time/telecommuting — Some jobs allow for greater ability to vary work hours within limits or allow you to work from home.
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — This entitles eligible employees to take unpaid leave for medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, placement of a child for foster care, and for the care of a child, spouse or parent who has a serious health condition.
Evaluate the Offer
How do you decide if a position is right for you or if the offer is appropriate? Review the following factors to help reflect on what's most important to in making this decision.
Negotiate Your Offer
Negotiation is a normal part of the hiring process and you should always ask if there is room to negotiate your offer. Do your research and be prepared to present a reasonable counter-offer if presented with the opportunity. Remember you don't get what you don't ask for.
You are in the best position to negotiate when you know the value of your skills as well as comparable salary and benefits for your position.
- Research salaries and benefits in your industry
- Review what makes you the most desirable candidate: specialized technical skill or expertise, your educational background, your past experience or an advanced degree
- When salary is not negotiable, you can ask about signing bonus, moving expense reimbursements or other one-time expenses
- Negotiate in good faith. If you have a competing offer, you can mention it but avoid exaggeration, fabrication or playing one offer off another for an extended time.
Asking For More
Mary Casady '08, project manager with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, leads this #HiattLive discussion on negotiating salary in the workplace and provides tips on how to ask for more.
For in-depth interview help, review the Salary Negotiation Myths video training from LinkedIn Learning provided for free by Brandeis.
Handling Competing Offers
Timing is everything when you are engaged in multiple job searches. You might receive an offer from one company while you are being considered for another attractive position in an application process that is only just beginning. You'll have to make a decision about the first position based on an informed review without knowing the outcome of the second search.
Once you accept an offer at a company, you should withdraw yourself immediately from any on-going job searches in which you are involved — you are no longer on the market.
If you have determined that accepting an offer is right for you, write or call the other organization(s) with offers on the table to say that you appreciated their consideration and have taken a job elsewhere.
If you have received an offer from one company and expect to hear within two weeks from another, your request for a few weeks to consider the first offer will allow you to assess both offers at the same time. Give each your full consideration, then make your decision and inform both organizations.
Your Final Answer
When you have decided to accept the position, get in touch directly with the person who made the offer. This is usually done by telephone. Find a quiet place where you can focus your attention on the conversation without distractions.
If you decline, be sure to convey your gratitude to the organization for the offer and the consideration shown to you throughout the process. Remember, these individuals may become colleagues or professional contacts in the future.
You do not need to share detailed information about your decision but you should provide an explanation. One example might be, "After considering all of the information you and your colleagues shared about the position, I feel that the work involved is not a strong match with my professional needs at this time. This was a difficult decision because I think your organization does important work and the staff are very dedicated."
If you accept, you should also express your gratitude for the opportunity and enthusiasm for the work ahead. The hiring manager will provide details about the next steps such as meeting with a human resources representative, signing a contract and setting a firm start date.