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Salary Negotiation and Accepting a Job Offer

You’ve been through all the steps: you have developed the perfect resume and cover letter that secured a crucial interview; you aced the interview; and, the firm is offering you a job. Now you want to make sure you receive the best compensation package possible. The information below can serve as a guide to making sure you do not overlook this crucial component of the hiring process.

Do your homework BEFORE the interview.

A job offer could come at any point. Be prepared by knowing general salary ranges for such a position, as well as typical health and retirement benefits. In addition, you should be aware of your financial situation and needs with respect to possible salary ranges, and what the absolute lowest amount is that you could settle for.

Do NOT bring up salary before having an offer in hand.

Be prepared to answer questions about salary before and after an initial offer, including the following:

  • Q: “What are your salary requirements?”
    A: “It is my understanding that the position requires x, y, and z. What is a normal salary range for this type of position in your company?”
  • Q: “How much did you earn at your last job?”
    A: “I would prefer learning more about this position before discussing compensation, and I am confident that we can come to a mutual agreement about salary at the right time.”
  • Q: “A salary range for this position is x to y. Is that what you expected?”
    A: “It is close to what I was expecting. I expected a range more like y to z.” (make sure your offer’s lower range is in line with the employer’s upper range, and that your range is consistent with the industry-wide rate for that position).
  • Q: “The salary we are offering is x per year.”
    A: “X per year…“ (if lower than expected, you can repeat the salary and then pause as if reflecting on the number while you wait for an employer to increase the offer. If there is no higher offer, try saying that your expected range was x to y, with x being the low end. Make sure you can justify the higher number to your employer by being able to explain your value to the organization!).

Make sure you understand benefits when evaluating any offers, including:

  • Health, dental, disability and life insurance.
  • Paid vacation, maternity/ paternity and sick leave.
  • Cost of living allowances, relocation bonuses.
  • Retirement plans, including stock options if applicable.

When accepting an offer, make sure to:

  • Understand ALL of the job duties and responsibilities.
  • Be aware of the performance evaluation process and room for advancement.
  • Know the details of the salary and compensation package.
  • Accept the offer verbally, and ask for a written offer as well.
  • Follow up acceptance with a formal letter that includes job title, annual salary and agreed upon start date.

Sources for Salary Data