Key Points for Negotiating a New Employment Offer

University of Pittsburgh Katz Business School logo
A partnership between the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh and PYP brings you this article. Learn more about the Pitt business school.

You’ve just received an offer for a new role — congratulations! While this is an exciting time filled with new possibilities, it may also cause a lot of stress and anxiety as you consider whether this is a competitive offer that will give you what you need. 

Negotiating may seem intimidating at first, but keep in mind that the goal is to ensure that you’re fairly compensated for your work and expertise. Knowing what to do in negotiations is critical, and here are six key points to help you review and discuss a new offer:    

1. Thank the company for the offer

Sharing your excitement about receiving an offer reiterates your interest in both the opportunity and the company. After showing your gratitude, ask your HR contact if they can provide all the details of the role for you to review. Let them know that you will get back to them with any additional questions. It is critical to never accept an offer immediately unless you are positive that there is nothing that you have additional questions about, and they have given you everything that you want. 

2. Remember, everything can be negotiated 

Many people think that they can only negotiate salary. However, there are many additional benefits that can also be discussed. These include, but are not limited to, signing bonuses, relocation packages, paid days off, 401(k) benefits, stock options and equity, parking passes, performance reviews, start dates, and other details. Once you have the written offer in hand, go through the information and determine if it is agreeable or if you would like to counter with additional requests.  

3. Do your research

The key to conducting effective negotiations is to do your research. Websites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn help to outline compelling reasons to negotiate your employment package. Using the information accessible online, determine what the average offer is for the role that you‘re considering accepting. Are you falling within a reasonable average? Is this compensation fair in comparison to the organization’s competitors? At the very least, this research can give you insight into what additional salary or a signing bonus you might ask for and whether it’s equitable. Keep in mind that a lot of the information on these websites has been submitted by the general public, so be sure to review the details with a critical eye. 

4. Cost of living matters

The cost of living in different geographical areas can vary greatly. Because of this, make sure to consider whether your offer should be adjusted to accommodate higher cost of living factors such as housing, insurance, and utilities. Making a base salary of $100,000 in Pittsburgh goes a lot further than the same salary in New York City. Tools like CNN Money’s Cost of Living calculator can give you a sense of what you’ll be able to afford, especially if you’re thinking of relocating.        

5. Negotiate at one time

Strategize everything that you want to negotiate all at once. While you will rarely receive everything that you ask for, having a well-designed strategy that encompasses all of your negotiating items allows the employer to review your requests and work with the appropriate internal constituents to give fair consideration.                       

6. Ask — don’t demand

Companies are trying to hire the best person for the job at the lowest price. Start your negotiation by reiterating how excited you are about working at the company and showing that you thoroughly reviewed the employment package that was provided. It’s natural and usually expected that you’ll have additional questions after reviewing the offer. Never demand more of anything, but instead ask for clarification and adjustments based upon research and facts. 

Remember, it is better to negotiate and not receive everything that you ask for than to wonder after you’ve accepted if you received everything that you deserve. Best practices suggest you should protect your professional reputation by ceasing all other recruiting activities once you’ve accepted an offer and avoid reneging at all costs. In a hot job market, it may be difficult to stop pursuing other opportunities, but negotiating can help you get closer to an offer and position that will lay the foundation for the next phase of your career journey.