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I'm a new grad and got an offer from a tech giant as my first job. It is amazing that I will be working for them.

I now got another offer from a top contract and the pay is way higher. ($15k more)

Can I negotiate my salary after accepting the position, or somehow bring it up to see if it's possible? The offer letter did not mention the salary.

NOTE: I "Accepted". My offer letter was online and I hit accept. Would signing it mean I can't negotiate-it's set in stone? Or would it depend on the contract?

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    I would say that signing a contract definitely puts you in a significantly more difficult position to negotiate something in the contract you just signed. – jcmeloni Jan 7 '14 at 0:18
  • I signed the offer letter which says "I accept this offer" and an agreement document-however the agreement document doesn't contain anything about salary just legalities and policies. – givemeananswer Jan 7 '14 at 0:20
  • Yes. I didn't say I didn't know the salary. I knew what the accepted offer was but NOW I received an offer from a different company that is $15k more – givemeananswer Jan 7 '14 at 1:43
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    I won't leave. I just see what my "value" can be in the market, or so to speak. Obviously this is my first experience with this and hence why I'm asking. – givemeananswer Jan 7 '14 at 1:50
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    Unless you have this second offer in your hands ready to be signed you risk losing the first offer by trying to renegotiate the first offer. In the future you shouldn't accept an offer unless you are understand fully what the offer is exactly. In the end the tech giant holds most of the cards, you don't have any experience to fall back on, to explain the reason you should get an adjusted offer. In the end the tech giant cannot force you to work for them, you can simply back out of the deal, this will burn bridges but it an option. ( They can also do this if you try to get a higher pay ). – Donald Jan 7 '14 at 15:51
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There is something very, very important here which seems to be missing. The job you have accepted is from a 'tech giant' and I assume it is a permanent position. You describe the higher offer as "from a top contract". Is that a contractor position?

If it is, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Does your current offer give you paid time off? Healthcare? Pension? Sick pay? Most do; but these things are not usually paid with a contract position. Also a contractor may have to pay more tax than an employee does. Those things can easily be enough to compensate for a difference of $15k per year. And don't forget about job security. A secure, continuing job at a slightly lower salary may well be worth more than a one-year contract. If nothing else it is likely that yu will have a few weeks unpaid at the end of a contract job while looking or a new one. So be very careful and make sure you have done your research before you start dumping a good permanent job for a contract that isn't as good as it looks.

I realize that this isn't technically an answer to the question you asked, but it absolutely has to be said in case you are about to do something you will regret. If you are reading this because you want to know about negotiating an accepted offer after having genuinely received a better one, I refer you to jmac's answer.

  • Hey DJ, if you want to delete the answer, you could edit it in to my answer as an addendum (or I can do it if you feel uncomfortable editing). This is great info and I would hate to see it deleted, as this may be very relevant for people in the future who may be in the same situation. – jmac Jan 7 '14 at 4:12
  • Feel free to edit this into your answer if you like. I'll wait and see if the OP responds before deleting my answer. – DJClayworth Jan 7 '14 at 13:52
  • Not only are there differences in Healthcare/Pension/time off, in many areas contractors are liable for a larger percentage of their salary in taxes. I can't imagine why you'd want to delete this answer. You've provided a very important reminder about comparing jobs. Based on upvotes the community clearly thinks it is useful. – Daniel Jan 7 '14 at 14:30
  • I've added something about taxes. – DJClayworth Jan 7 '14 at 15:30
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    I guess popular demand means it stays. See jmac if you really want to negotiate an accepted offer. – DJClayworth Jan 8 '14 at 0:34
14

Executive Summary

You can negotiate anything. The more leverage you have, the more you can negotiate.

In this case, your leverage depends on three things:

  1. What you've already agreed to
  2. How badly they want you
  3. How willing you are to walk away if you don't get what you want

Prior Agreement Kills Leverage

The more you've already agreed to, the less wiggle room you have. For instance, if the company discussed salary with you already, and you've accepted the job, there is an implication that you were content with the salary if you didn't say anything at the time.

In the case that you've already signed a contract, there is virtually nothing you can negotiate since you have to overcome the hurdle of already having an agreement in place before you can negotiate a new one.

Need is Strong Motivation

If you are the only person in the world who can do what you do, you have a lot more leverage than if you're easily replaceable. If Yo-Yo Ma agrees to play cello at your concert, you are going to have a tough time replacing him, so you are going to be more willing to give him more leeway in any negotiation.

Think about your value to this company compared to other options. This means understanding your market value (how much they'd pay for someone of similar talent), and understanding the pool of talent (how easy it is to replace you for that much). If you are asking for more than market value with a good supply of talent, you are going to have less success than if you are asking for a bump to market value with a smaller pool of talent.

Walking Away

If you aren't willing to walk away with nothing if you can't negotiate what you want, then you aren't going to have much luck negotiating. Most people in your situation (first job, already agreed) aren't willing to give up a job in hand for a small bump in salary or perks, because the fear of unemployment is a far more powerful motivator than whatever they think they have to gain from the negotiations.

Think long and hard about how willing you are to sacrifice everything they're offering for a little more, based on what you've already agreed to and what your market value is. If you have other options if this falls through, and those options can be kept open, it's a lot easier to negotiate than if you've already turned down all the other offers and turning this job means you have to re-start the search.

  • Thank you. This is a good guide. I know it's not an excuse but it was my first job offer and now I know that it could've been better. I was selected along with 10 others from a pool of 35. I'm going to have to come up with a plan of action-feel out the recruiter (middle man) and see how it goes from there. – givemeananswer Jan 7 '14 at 0:36
  • Usually the employer has a lot of leverage when you're just starting out, and that's likely a large reason that many younger employees hop jobs more frequently. Don't worry if you don't get everything you want as long as you learn how to handle it next time. If you are in a group of 10 out of 35, it means there are 25 other people who would probably like to be in your place if you push too hard. Good luck in your negotiation! – jmac Jan 7 '14 at 0:38
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    @givemeananswer sadly I would say that if you were one of 10 from a pool of 35, chance are you have next to zero leverage to negotiate with. – Carson63000 Jan 7 '14 at 2:01
  • If I brought it up they would withdraw their offer? (I'm not asking for you to give me a perfect answer...just if that's something that happens) – givemeananswer Jan 7 '14 at 2:11
  • It's always a possibility @give. Especially if they have 25 people waiting of close-to-equivalent quality who are willing to work for a lower salary. That is the risk portion which is why I discussed the need to be willing to walk away (or being forced to walk away). – jmac Jan 7 '14 at 2:13
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You can negotiate, but an hourly contract offer paying "$15k more" is probably worth less than the offer you accepted.

To give up a permanent position for a contract, you would want an hourly rate close to 1/1000 of your annual salary. If the permanent position is paying say $50K, you would need a contract wage close to $50/hour. Don't listen to recruiters who say that $50/hour is equivalent to $100K/year. That is so dishonest I won't even bother talking to them. $50/hour isn't even close to a permanent position paying $100K. Most permanent employees don't work 250 days per year. With three weeks paid vacation and 12 holidays, it's more like 235 days = 1880 hours. Then add benefits and job security. That "one-year" contract could be over in two weeks if the client abandons the project, or just doesn't like you.

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