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6 Tips for Negotiating Your First Job Offer

shutterstock_144788374We’re nearing the end of college career fair season. This is the time of year recruiters are conducting interviews to find the right candidate to fit their company’s needs.
If you make it to the final round and receive an offer, there are many things to keep in mind as you negotiate your first salary out of school.
1. Don’t Accept an Offer Right Away
When you receive an offer, don’t make a knee-jerk decision and accept or reject it right on the spot. Step away, and consider all angles.
You could be really excited about the offer and want to jump right on it. However, take your time to fully digest everything the company is presenting you. You have a grace period before you graduate and the employer should honor this life-altering decision. Ask for a week or two to consider your offer, both with the employer and other companies as well.
Even if the offer isn’t what you were expecting, thank the company, tell them you’re flattered. Maybe the salary was lower than you anticipated, but the organization offers great potential for growth and an excellent culture. Weigh all the pros and cons before committing one way or the other.
2. Ask the Right Questions
The person who talks less gets more. That doesn’t mean you should dodge questions. If I ask you, “What is your compensation expectation?” You might respond with something like, “Well, having done some research, I realize that there’s an array of different salary ranges for entry-level positions. What is the average for your company to bring in someone with my skill set?” That will help you understand the company’s salary structure.
Are there opportunities for a bonus? What are the out of pocket cost for medical benefits?  Is there a 401K plan, and if so, what is the organization’s match? Find out the full package. The more information you get from an employer, the better off you will be in making an educated decision.
3. Know Your Market Value
You have to be proactive in determining your value to a company. Don’t depend on what you’ve heard about offers from other companies. Your friend might get an offer in the financial services industry in banking and finance, and you might get an offer in the same industry but in technology. Your offer shouldn’t be the same because it’s two different types of services, even though they’re in the same domain.
There are many factors at play in setting a salary, and numbers can vary greatly from company to company. Isolate a couple similar companies, and do some research. Visit sites such as and and any blogs that list relevant compensation levels. Learn as much as possible about the company and the value behind its clients and partnerships.
Consider your personal preferences, like where you want to live. Do you want to stay in the same town you went to school in? Are you willing to travel? Location can influence a salary.
4. Prove Your Value
If you request a salary that’s higher than the expected offer, I will ask you: “How did you come to that number?” What I am looking for is a good, logical answer based on your market research and data.
You need to know what you’re asking for and why you’re asking for it. Show me what you bring to the table. Maybe you have three years of experience in the field and the specific knowledge my company needs, so that master’s degree has a higher value. Demonstrate how you can be the solution to my company’s needs, so that I can go to bat for you.
5. Remember: Recruiters Are Your Friend
The recruiter wants to hire you. We’re trying to help you. We’re the communicator, the go-between the manager and yourself. It’s in our best interest to identify the best fit for the position, and we are always hoping that is you.
6. Make Sure You Can Live Up to a Higher Salary
Every dollar has an expectation. If you request $10,000 more than you were offered and the hiring manager honors the increase, the expectations just grew by that amount. Make sure you can deliver.
Have questions? Leave them in the comments section below, and Scott will get back to you.

Scott_Albert_150Perficient Talent Acquisition Specialist Scott Albert has 15 years of experience in career development, corporate recruiting and public speaking. He frequently contributes career advice to the Life at Perficient blog. Past articles have included Why High-Value Questions are Critical in a Job Interview and Why Interviewing is Like Playing a Game of Baseball.
Connect with Scott on LinkedIn here. Follow him on Twitter at
@coachyourcareer. For more career advice from Scott, visit his Coach Your Career website.

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Scott Albert

Perficient Talent Acquisition Specialist Scott Albert has more than 15 years of experience in career development, corporate recruiting and public speaking.

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