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Negotiating the Job Offer

Before accepting a job offer, ensure it aligns with your expectations. When you get the offer, take the time to decide whether the position suits you. Focus on benefits, vacation time, and severance that you might not have discussed in depth during the interview. If the offer falls short, consider negotiating for better terms.

The hiring process is the time to advocate for yourself. While you may not get everything you want, settling on clear terms up front can prevent future misunderstandings. It can enhance your satisfaction and performance in your new position.

Below are tips and considerations for negotiating your job offer.

What Are the Employment Contract Terms?

First, get the employment offer in writing. You should ask for and receive an offer letter. An offer letter ensures that you and your employer understand the position and its offer. The document should give comprehensive details that explain the terms of employment, such as:

  • Job title
  • Start date
  • Starting salary
  • Signing bonus
  • Stock options
  • Benefits package
  • Time off

Next, request clarification of any unclear employment terms. You'll want to know as much as possible about the job so you can make an informed decision.

The timeline for giving your final answer varies. Hiring managers expect you to take time to decide on a job offer. But you should respond immediately, acknowledging the offer. The typical timeline for responding to a job offer can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the employer's expectations. It's reasonable to take a few days to a week to respond.

What Are My Roles and Responsibilities?

It's a good idea to get a comprehensive job description up front. Agreeing on your title, role, and primary job responsibilities as early as possible is important. For instance, you'll want to be sure the title accurately reflects the nature of the work you will be doing.

Also, you should consider whether your job duties match your skills, interests, and capabilities. Since you'll be spending a large chunk of your time and energy in the new job, you should aim to enjoy the work that you'll be doing.

Finally, asking how your role fits within the larger team, company, and organization may be wise. It may be important to know how others inside and outside your organization perceive your role.

What Are My Salary and Benefits?

For many, the most important aspect of a job is the compensation

package. You'll want to know your base salary and when it's payable. If you're unhappy with the salary offer or believe you will not get fair wages, consider negotiating a better salary. Research comparable jobs in similar fields, knowing that job function, work hours, education level, prior salary history, and experience all play a key role.

Also, determine whether bonus pay is part of your compensation. If so, ask about its calculation and payment methods. You want to avoid a discretionary bonus payout. Instead, ask for a specific amount or percentage based on a verifiable formula and get all bonus promises in writing.

About vacation pay, ask the employer:

  1. How much vacation time you'll get
  2. Whether unused vacation days carry over to the next year
  3. Whether you'll get paid for unused vacation days if you leave or get laid off or fired

Finally, ask about the employer's company-sponsored benefits, such as health insuranceretirement plans, and federally mandated family and medical leave benefits.


People often assume that the first number offered by a prospective employer is non-negotiable. If someone offers you a lower salary than you were expecting or one that does not reflect the market value for the position, you can counteroffer. A counteroffer should be reasonable and reflect your value and market conditions. As part of the salary negotiation, you should highlight your qualifications and the value you bring to the company.

It's important to negotiate salary. A low salary, especially in the early stages of your career, can hinder your ability to get fair compensation for your next job. Remember that many employers can't legally ask you for your current salary because of salary history bans.

As part of the negotiation, you should discuss the potential for a salary increase after six months. This can effectively bridge the gap between the employer's initial offer and your salary expectations.

When entering salary negotiations, you must have well-researched information about the position's market value. Platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor offer helpful salary research, such as data on industry-standard compensation. This can help you establish a realistic salary range for your new job. This research strengthens your argument for a higher salary and demonstrates that evidence supports your salary expectations.

What Job Security or Career Advancement Opportunities Will I Have?

Ensure you understand the circumstances under which the employer may or may not fire you. For example, you'll want to know whether it's up to the employer's discretion or based on cause. If the position is hard to fill or requires specialized training (which you might have), ask for a fixed-term contract such as for one year. If the company refuses your request for a fixed-term contract, consider asking for a minimum period of employment (such as 90 days) before the employer may fire you.

Discuss career development and career advancement with your potential employer. Ask whether the company offers career development opportunities like mentoring, education, or other training. Learning new skills might help you advance into an expanded role or a promotion.

What Happens If I'm Separated from the Company for Any Reason?

Unfortunately, some situations may lead to job termination or layoff. It is wise to negotiate what will happen if your employment gets terminated or you leave the company. Ask the company about its severance policy and consider negotiating a severance package that works for you and the employer.

Also, ask about the conditions of a severance package, such as when you will get paid and whether it will apply to a resignation. You should also ask whether the severance package gets paid in a lump sum or over a period of time.

What Other Job Factors Should I Consider?

Consider asking about the following matters and, if appropriate, negotiate over them:

  • Telecommute policy: What is the company's policy on telecommuting? Is the job fully remote, or should you be in the office several days a week?
  • Work hours: What are your expected work hours? Does the company offer flexible work schedules? Does the hiring manager support a flexible work schedule?
  • Relocation expenses: Will the company pay for your move?
  • Fringe benefits: Will you get perks or extra benefits, such as free parking, gym membership discounts, backup childcare resources, etc?
  • Job advancement: Does pay increase regularly, and if so, what is the typical amount?
  • Company goals/vision: Find out whether your personal goals align with the company's.

Negotiating all the terms of a job offer is unnecessary; just those relevant terms that would make the job better for you. Regardless of the type of job you seek, use the negotiation process to your advantage.

More Resources for Job Seekers

Finding a job can be tricky. Before embarking on the negotiation process, it's best to be well-versed in the negotiation terms. For more information, read FindLaw's Wages and Benefits section and Employee Benefits Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Health Insurance Plan. If you need an employment lawyer, don't hesitate to hire one.

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