The Importance of Negotiating

At the time of receiving a job offer, you have more control than at any other point in the interviewing process. Along with helping you sort through your options and make the right choice, much can be gained or lost to the way that you negotiate your offer.

Factors That May Be Negotiated


Salary may or may not be a point that can be negotiated, but either way, you should do research beforehand into salaries offered in your field and position, and how they are impacted by factors like geographical location, degree level, experience, major, or previous offers. These offers may vary widely, and will give you an understanding of what might be fair for your position.


Research the location of your position. Is it suitable to your lifestyle? Is your commute reasonable? Do you have options with the location of your job? If it's open to negotiation, location can be a major factor in whether or not a job is a good fit.

Start Date

Some jobs will allow you the opportunity to discuss and negotiate your start date. This can provide you with a bit of additional time to attend to any matters that may have arisen, or even to go on a trip or spend additional time with loved ones before starting a new job.

Division or Department

There are many different departments and positions within any company or organization. Be sure to thoroughly research different positions before accepting a job offer. If you feel that there is a position in the company that would suit you better than the one that you are being offered, bring it up in discussion. It may not be open for negotiation, but it is also possible that your specific assignment could be revised before you begin work.


Some employers provide relocation benefits to aid in your transition to the community where the company or organization is located. These may include travel or moving expenses, assistance with mortgage, or help covering the costs of food and lodging until you are settled. This may come in the form of a signing bonus. If your employer does not present these benefits, this may be a point to consider negotiating.

Performance Reviews

Certain employers give bonuses based on job performance, which is evaluated through performance reviews. If you are signing on with one such employer, it is possible that you could negotiate an earlier review, so as to receive your bonuses more quickly.

Things to Consider

Personal Needs and Goals

Consider: is this job a fit for your skills, preferences, interests, values, and beliefs? Do you feel safe, comfortable, and supported in this environment? Will it provide you with the lifestyle, security, creativity, prestige, and economic returns you are seeking in a job?

Family Needs and Goals

Consider: does this job accomodate your family's needs and lifestyle? Geographically, is it suitable towards your family's social needs, hobbies, or community involvement?

Career Goals

Do the nature of the employer, the work itself, and the job's pay and benefits align with what you need and want from a job? What is the reputation of the employer? Does the organization provide opportunities for advancement? Do you feel safe and welcome in the work environment? Is there appropriate job security? Do you have room for growth, both personal and professional? How does it compare comprehensively to other employers? Be sure to do your research.

Effective Decision Making

Remember to evaluate all your offers using the same criteria, and that you determine these criteria personally and individually. Only you can decide what factors in a job are important to you, so be sure not to let others' expectations burden your decision-making process.

Steps for Successful Negotiation

Determine Your Conditions

Decide what you want from a job, but also determine what is the minimum that you will accept. Have a negotiation plan that will demonstrate flexibility. For example, if you would like a greater salary but the employer cannot offer any more, are you open to taking a signing bonus instead? This is your only opportunity to maximize your offer, so be well prepared.

Negotiate with Only One Organization

Only negotiate with one employer at a time. Don't take the time and energy to negotiate with your second or third choice(s) until it is certain that your first pick will not be an option.

Negotiate From a Point of Power

There are two main strategies for negotiating effectively. The first involves arriving at the employer with a competing offer from another organization. Being able to show a better offer for the same type of position from a competitor can be a strong negotiation tactic. However, never lie or make up alternate offers -- employers are able to contact each other and confirm your claims.

The second strategy is presenting the employer with data you've collected about salaries in your field and the cost of living and/or market demand for your skills and credentials. This sort of research puts you in a strong position to negotiate for better conditions. Just be sure that your data is accurate and well-supported.

Be Timely

If you make  your decision before the deadline, call early to begin negotiations earlier. The sooner you begin to negotiate, the more likely that the employer has not filled all of its positions and is in a better place to offer you more. Retain credibility and professionalism.

Be Professional

Do not be too casual after receiving an offer. Remain professional in all your interactions; the person you are negotiating with could be your supervisor or collegue.

Be Decisive

Be prepared to make a final decision once the employer has made their final offer. Do not attempt to "hold out" for a better offer or an offer from another employer.

Commit Fully

Once you have decided, let your employer know that you are with them completely. Be enthusiastic about your new position within the company or organization.

Final Steps

The last step in the negotiation process is sending a letter -- or much more likely, an email -- back to the employer, either to accept their offer or decline it in favor of another one.

A decline letter should be sent as soon as you accept another position, as it allows you to stay in good graces with this employer rather than suddenly cutting all ties with them. This contact could serve you well in the future, so it is important to remain professional and polite.

An acceptance letter serves not only to finalize your position with the employer, but also to restate and clarify your understanding of the position. Be sure to include your starting salary, starting date and time, location, any perks, signing bonuses, etc. that you negotiated previously, and to mention any points that you felt were vague or unclear or that you did not receive in writing.