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Congratulations on receiving an offer – now what? Be sure it’s the right opportunity for you. Below are some tips to guide you from the moment you receive the offer to your final decision. In addition, the Office of Career Strategy offers meetings with advisors to discuss your options, and workshops on Salary Negotiation to help prepare you for the process.


Receiving the Offer

Offers are usually extended verbally – either by the line manager, the HR professional, or a recruiter. When receiving an offer, keep in mind to:

  • Be enthusiastic and professional. Express your thanks and your interest.
  • Ask for some time to consider the offer. Even if you know you’ll accept it, don’t make a decision on the spot (and no employer will expect you to do so).
  • Ask for the details, and preferably, in writing (it’s not always possible, so use your judgment). Details include:
    • Title and responsibilities,
    • Base salary, bonus (if any),
    • Sign-on bonus (if any),
    • Relocation allowance (if applicable),
    • Benefits package (health care, dental and eye care plans, retirement plans, 401K plans, day care, vacation policy, maternity/paternity leave, professional association dues, health club membership, etc.).

Note:  What matters is your total compensation, not just your salary.  The value of benefits packages can vary considerably across offers.

Negotiating the Offer

Should you negotiate your offer? It depends. Do your research after you receive the offer, and try to assess compensation at similar organizations in the same job function.  The window of opportunity for negotiating terms is after you have had time to consider the offer and before you accept the position --- NOT at the time the offer is initially made.

Six Rules of Effective Employment Negotiation

  • First, decide on your bottom line (in terms of salary, benefits, etc.) in advance.
  • If possible, speak with the hiring manager. Speak in a business-like tone, staying calm and professional throughout the conversation. Try to use a non-adversarial, collaborative tone (i.e. “Might there be another way of approaching this issue that could bring us closer together . . . “). Remember-- it’s HOW you ask as much as what you ask for.
  • Express your interest in and enthusiasm for the position and the organization. Reinforce your desire to be part of their team. And try to show how meeting your request(s) is in their best interest, given what you will be bringing to the organization.
  • Negotiate the base salary first, and save the most difficult issues for last.
  • Avoid getting into a conversation of specific salaries at competitor organizations.
  • Always continue to sell yourself.

Tip: Learn more about how to negotiate effectively

Tip: Websites with salary information

  • JobStar: Job Search Guide - More than 300 industry-specific and general salary surveys.
  • - The “Salary Wizard” options provides a benchmark for salaries by industry and zip code.
  • - Relocation guide which includes a salary calculator, letting you know what a salary in City X is worth in City Y.
  • - Quench your compensation curiosity with millions of salaries for all types of industries and jobs.
  • Chronicle Data - Staff, faculty and adjunct salary data at thousands of colleges from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Ethics of Negotiating

If your terms are met, it is assumed that you will accept the position.  It is unethical to negotiate with an employer if you have no intention of accepting the position, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.    

Making a Decision

It is important to consider all facets of a job offer to decide if it is right for you. Be cautious about evaluating an offer solely on its salary or the prestige of the organization. Ask yourself how this position fits into your long-term goals, your work style, and your desired work-life balance.  Factors to consider include:

Financial Considerations:

  • Salary
  • Signing bonus
  • Relocation package
  • Vacation
  • Savings/retirement plan
  • Health/detal/vision benefits
  • Tuition reimbursement for family
  • Pre-tax benefits (childcare, health, commuting)
  • Cost of living (housing, commuting, etc.)

The Organization:

  • Values & mission
  • Financial stability
  • Reputation
  • Size of business
  • Location
  • Commuting options

The Work Environment

  • Typical daily hours
  • Supervisor & colleagues
  • Corporate culture
  • Travel requirements
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Opportunities for training

After you have made your decision, the Office of Career Strategy recommends notifying the employer by telephone and following up with an acceptance letter or a withdrawal letter.

Professional Ethics and Conduct when Accepting an Offer

Please keep in mind that when you accept an offer, you have a professional obligation to join that employer.  Reneging on an offer (i.e., accepting an offer, changing your mind and then rejecting it) is unethical and extremely unprofessional.   Doing so damages your professional reputation, the reputation of Yale alumni employed by that organization and, of course, the reputation of your department and of Yale University.

Note:  GSAS students and postdocs who accept an offer and then renege on their acceptance may lose access to on-campus recruiting and alumni career services.