I just checked my emails this morning and to my delight I have been offered my first job out of university.

It is not in writing yet but I have essentially been offered the job. The salary has been mentioned and I have said that I am wanting the job.

My question is when/if do I open salary+benefit negotiations?

Presumably I will get an official contract in a few days listing all the details, should I wait for this and then say I would like $x for instance or +x vacation days etc or should I hit them straight away with it before they draw up a contract?

I ask this because I have zero experience in this department.

I think the offer is fair and probably what is in the normal range (some will earn less, some more) but I have always thought it was common sense if they want you (and they did express that they wanted me and were very impressed) not to take the first offer.

On the one hand I don't want to be throwing away extra money/perks because I am too shy to ask, but on the other hand I don't want to put the offer in jeopardy by asking for more.

I really don't know what to do and any advice would be useful!

Thank you.

  • Do you have a competing offer or are you likely to get other offers?
    – dbeer
    Feb 28 '18 at 16:30

I have always negotiated for better salaries. I have never taken the offer 'as-it-stands'. That being said, I'm now self-employed!

Rules I apply:

  1. Know compensation for similar positions. Use salary surveys, private information, ... whatever you can get your hands on. Pay attention to regional differences throughout the U.S. Also keep in mind sectors are different (healthcare, semiconductor, ...)
  2. Estimate what you are worth to your potential employer. If you expect to make $100,000 then bear in mind that the employer is spending $130k - $200k in salary and benefits (sometimes more). In addition, the first 6 - 12 mos. a new employee is not really at 100% efficiency. So, investing in a new employee is expensive regardless of your expertise. Understand how money flows in the company from customers to you. Can you really produce $200k of revenue each year? Are you going to produce (by virtue of your work and your subordinates' work) more than $200k per year. If so, how are you going to do that?
  3. Never use 'he or she got that, so I should too'. No employer I know is going to listen to that. You just sound like a little kid complaining. I don't want to hire a complainer.
  4. It is not negotiating if you can't walk away. If you think that you must take whatever offer you're provided, you can't negotiate. Unless you can walk away and say 'no thanks', you're not really negotiating.
  5. Be reasonable. I already lived through (x1) Dot.com boom / bust. Friends were getting (x2) the 'standard' consulting rate to take ridiculous work. Be ethical and reasonable and you'll get respect - that is worth a lot more than an extra $100/week.
  6. Give something to get something. Offer to take on specific job functions, management, documentation, training of others - offer something your employer values to get something you value.
  7. Don't negotiate for future raises. It never happened for me - all the promises of promotions or salary adjustments or bonuses never materialized. Negotiate for the here and now, not some promise of a 'review in six months'.
  8. Use the job as a learning experience for the next negotiation. If you don't think you can truly negotiate for more money or if you don't get what you've asked, decide if the organization can 'teach' you something intangible. Face it. If you're asking StackExchange for advice, you may lack the experience to negotiate strongly. Look at the advice you've been given and try to figure out in your existing job or in this new opportunity what you learn to negotiate better the next time.

Nothing in life is for free. Don't expect a raise or a better offer unless they really need you and you're worth the money. If you're worth the money, they'll give it to you and you should perform well. If they don't give it to you and you are truly worth the money, keep looking for somebody that appreciates you. Don't take it personally. Recognize that you may be worth more to somebody else - it is not their fault or your fault. Not all employers value the same person the same way - just like not all people value the same car / house / stocks the same way.

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