Job Offers & Salary Negotiation

I thought the salary negotiation process would be the most daunting part of the job search–particularly for a young woman with limited work experience. But approaching salary negotiation with clear goals and specific guidance about what constituted “fair” was a game changer. OCS provided me with insights that allowed me to negotiate, compare two offers, and ultimately choose a career path that I’m excited about. Far from daunting, this process was empowering!   

– Madeline L. Yale College, Class of 2018

Congratulations on receiving an offer! Below are tips and a brief video as you consider the offer and negotiate the compensation. Students and alums are encouraged to make an appointment with an OCS advisor to discuss your options and negotiation strategies.

Receiving the Offer

Offers are usually extended verbally by the direct manager, the HR professional, or a recruiter. When receiving an offer, keep the following in mind:

  • Be enthusiastic and professional. Express your thanks and your interest.
  • Ask for time to consider the offer, you don’t need to make a decision on the spot.
  • Ask for the details, and preferably, in writing (it’s not always possible, so use your judgment).
  • Candidates may be asked to sign an employment agreement that contains a restrictive covenant, such as a Noncompete, Non Solicitation, or Nondisclosure Agreement. Although common, candidates should carefully review these agreements and consider the factors presented by the National Association of Colleges and Employers on restrictive covenants before signing.

Timeline to Decide on an Offer

Deciding whether to accept or decline an employment offer can arouse excitement and apprehension. While experienced professionals may only be given a few days to decide, OCS believes students should not feel pressured to make a hasty and ill-considered decision and has created a series of Offer Guidelines to benefit both employers and students. Please consult a career advisor to discuss your options.

Questions About Salary Expectation/Requirements

Often as part of a job application, a candidate will be ask to indicate their salary expectations or requirements. This can be tricky because you want to avoid providing an amount too low or too high for the position. Below are some helpful tips to consider:

  • If a text field is provided, indicate negotiable or willing to negotiate
  • If you must enter a specific number, be sure to first research the average starting salary for that position for someone with your equivalent education and experience. See below for Salary Research tools.
  • Be prepared to answer this same question during an interview.

Negotiating the Offer

Do your research and try to assess compensation for similar roles at similar organizations. The window for negotiating terms is after you have had time to consider the offer and before you accept the position, usually at the time the offer is initially made.

  • Consider the total compensation, not just the salary. The value of benefits packages can vary considerably.
  • First, decide on your bottom line (in terms of salary, benefits, etc.) in advance.
  • Use a friendly business tone, staying calm, and professional throughout the conversation.
  • Express your enthusiasm for the position and reinforce your desire to be part of their team.
  • Negotiate the base salary first, and save the most difficult issues for last.
  • Avoid discussing specific salaries at competitor organizations.
  • If your terms are met, it is assumed that you will accept. It is unethical to negotiate if you have no intention of accepting the position.

Additional Negotiation Tips

Salary Research Tools

  • – The “Salary Wizard” options provides a benchmark for salaries by industry and zip code.
  • – Relocation guide with 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.

Making a Decision

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 goals, your work style, and your work-life balance.

  • Financial Considerations: Salary, signing bonus, relocation package, vacation, savings/retirement plan, health/dental/vision benefits, tuition reimbursement for family, pre-tax benefits (childcare, health, commuting), and cost of living
  • The Organization: Values & mission, financial stability, reputation, organization size, location, commuting options
  • The Work Environment: Work hours, supervisor & colleagues, work culture, opportunities for advancement and training

After you have made your decision, notify the employer by telephone and follow up with an acceptance letter or a withdrawal letter.

Important Note: 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 extremely unprofessional; doing so damages your professional reputation, the reputation of Yale alumni employed by that organization, and, of course, the reputation of Yale University.