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This May I will be graduating from university with a computer science degree, as many people are. I have been on the job hunt for awhile, and have now received two offers. My first offer (at the place I'd prefer to work for) was lower than expected. I asked if the salary was negotiable and the recruiter responded with "I don't think so". The second offer (less desirable place) has a much higher offer. According to Glassdoor, the offer I was presented at the first company is about 18% lower than what that position pays at that company.

Now that I have this second offer, am I able to go back and try to re-negotiate the offer with the first place? I would like to get paid the average salary for the position, but I also do not want the recruiter to be turned off. I'm not entirely sure the best way to approach this situation. The first company seems great to work for and has awesome benefits so I do not want to lose the offer, but at the same time I would like to be paid fairly.

Note, I do have written offers from both of these companies. The first company's offer came about 3 days before the second company's offer. Time has already been discussed and both companies are fine with my timeline (3 more business days).

  • Is this recruiter an HR agent of the company, or an independent who is placing you with the company? – Wesley Long Mar 19 '15 at 22:07
  • The recruiter is an HR representative from the company. – jready Mar 19 '15 at 22:08
  • Are the positions you're interviewing for graduate/entry-level? If so, and if the first company's offer is much lower than the second's I'd probably not bother negotiating, as they obviously don't accurately value their staff. – HorusKol Mar 19 '15 at 22:49
  • Anyone who -1d this question has a chip on their shoulder. +1 – James Mar 21 '15 at 10:47
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First off, you shouldn't be expecting the "Average" salary as a fresh graduate. You are, by definition, entry-level. The average person in that role probably has between 3 and 7 years' experience, and you have none. They're going to put you at the bottom of the range for that position. You'll have to earn your way up to higher levels as you gain experience and prove yourself.

That being said, there's nothing wrong with comparing offers. If you feel company 1's offer is too low, and you feel company 2's offer is better, then by all means take the better offer. However, I would STRONGLY recommend that you don't decline company 1's offer until you have a SIGNED AGREEMENT with company 2 regarding salary and start date.

In the end, you have to manage your own choices.

Also - this question will likely get punted off of workplace, as "What job to take" is a specifically out-of-scope question. However, I thought you'd like an answer.

  • +1 for waiting until written/signed offer from company 2. But - if both positions are for "graduates" then the advertised pay should be in line for graduates. – HorusKol Mar 19 '15 at 22:47
  • @HorusKol - Graduates are entry-level. – Wesley Long Mar 19 '15 at 23:36
  • I know - I just re-read the question and realised I had thought the OP had received an offer below an advertised salary. My mistake – HorusKol Mar 20 '15 at 0:09
  • I don't think the OP is asking 'what position should I take' but "am I able to renegotiate the offer from company A on the basis that company B is making me a better offer?" – Cronax Mar 20 '15 at 10:37
  • Yes, I was asking whether or not I should attempt to negotiate with company A. From reading these answers and comments, it appears I should not. Thank you for you answer. – jready Mar 20 '15 at 13:35
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To be completely honest, when you are at entry-level (graduate level), unless you have done exceptional work that puts you 'above the rest' in your education or spare time, you have little to no bargaining power; which unfortunately makes a big difference when it comes to negotiation.

When you have been working somewhere for a few years and you have done some really awesome stuff, and then you look for another job - you have more bargaining power: firstly because you have some evidence to show how awesome you are, and secondly because you already have a job so you don't have to take the new job.

Unfortunately, you're unlikely to get anything for how great a job you will do in the future. You will have a much better chance of getting what you want when you have more of a track record and the knowledge and experience to back it up.

Yes, if you do end up being awesome, you can laugh at the previous companies who didn't take you onboard - but you're not there yet.

My advice: Get your foot in the door. Take the job which will give you the experience and the time to invest in your own mind (so not stressful, not an agency, not directly under a CEO whose only care is money and resource); somewhere where you can be nurtured to grow in along your path and then when you have been there for a year or so, you can go where you really want to (or stay).

  • Thank you for this answer. I was doing research online and I was seeing conflicting suggestions. Some were saying "You should always negotiate no matter what" while others were saying "Only negotiate if you have the experience to back it up". I was confused as to what is actually expected. – jready Mar 20 '15 at 13:38
  • I think going back to A and saying "I have a better offer at B" isn't negotiation, it's letting them know that the reason you are going to say "No" is because you have a better offer - be prepared to say no and go for the second place. Then see if they change their tune. You're not negotiating, you're stating a fact. Then, it's up to them to negotiate. – James Mar 20 '15 at 15:10
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The answer is Yes, but...:

Although the offer from the company B can be used to renegotiate the terms with company A, you have to be very careful when doing so.

As Wesley Long's answer explains, firstly you should not attempt this negotiation until you have both offers in hand, in writing and secondly, a fresh graduate should not expect to make the average of what a position pays. You are (by definition) at the entry-level for this position and thus should expect to make less than a more seasoned candidate would in the same position. The fact that entry-level workers make less and more seasoned workers make more is why the average exists in the first place. For this reason the chance of getting company A to make a better offer is lower.

At the same time, having a better offer in hand can be a valid but risky negotiation technique. You can contact company A to explain to them that you've received a better offer X with pay Y and benefits Z and ask if they'd like to change their offer based on this information. (Never mention where the better offer is, as that is highly unprofessional and may cost you both offers right there!). The risk here is that company A might retract their offer entirely and say "well then, good luck at the other company" instead of not changing their offer or choosing to match/exceed the other offer.

In short, first you need to weigh your preference for company A against the higher pay company B offers. If you feel your preference weighs heavier than the pay increase, ask yourself if you would be fine with taking company B's offer if company A retracts theirs. If the answer is no, you might not want to take the risk of losing the offer from company A.

Your status as a fresh graduate makes this negotiation harder. Normally, when you and a company have established that you want to work for them and they want to hire you to fill their position, negotiating the compensation you will receive is mostly a formality (for more on this, try reading this article: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/) but in your case you don't really have as much value yet as someone with more real-world experience would have.

  • Thank you for this answer, it really provided me with a lot of insight. My gut feeling was in-line with your last paragraph, but I had kept reading that a person should absolutely negotiate every time. So, while I don't want to risk losing the offer for the preferred company, I also don't want to lose out on salary because the recruiter was expecting me provide a counteroffer. – jready Mar 20 '15 at 13:41

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