How to Evaluate and Negotiate a Job Offer

It’s a new year, is it time for a new career? With a new year comes many professionals making resolutions to climb the corporate ladder or find a new role. As job seekers weigh out their options, we’re sharing need-to-know information for them to feel empowered and confident in assessing, and potentially negotiating, an offer letter. 

The crucial first step is for candidates to take time to reflect on the role, the manager they would be reporting into, the team they would join, and the company and its culture to ensure it aligns with what they were looking for at the start of their job search. They should revisit what motivated their job search initially and if they feel this role and its responsibilities can be a strong, long-term fit.  

Only after the candidate determines they are interested in and excited about the role should they then comb through the offer letter to assess the details of the proposal.  


Assessing pay: 

Because some candidates may be swayed to accept a role they are not actually a strong fit for because the pay meets or exceeds their expectations, pay should only be assessed after the candidate decides whether or not they are truly interested in the role itself. While assessing pay, consider both salary or hourly pay rate (and overtime policies, if being paid hourly), and a bonus or commission structure if applicable to the role. While pay is often discussed at a high level in the interview to determine the range the candidate is looking for, this may or may not line up with what is presented. Remember that a candidate may be asked what their targeted compensation range is for the role they are interviewing for, but they legally may not be asked what their current compensation is 

If unsure the offer is fair, candidates can research average salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor or Indeed, keeping in mind these sites may not be 100% accurate because they are based on self-reported data. They may also look at the career pages of similarly sized businesses within the same industry to see if salary ranges presented in their job descriptions are similar. Keep in mind the total earnings potential, including bonus and/or commission, while assessing. 


Assessing employee perks and benefits: 

Candidates should then assess benefits offerings, which are typically outlined in another document attached to the offer letter. Benefits offerings vary by company, industry, employee need and type of employment; however, some packages may include medical/dental insurance, 401(k) matching, paid time off, parental leave, commuter benefits, tuition reimbursement or other training resources, technology stipends, flexible spending accounts, and more. It is not required that employees utilize their full benefits package, but especially for those needing a particular benefit, such as medical insurance, this should be considered.  

Certain company-wide benefits, such as insurance providers, often cannot be negotiated. However, some employers are able to negotiate other perks, such as increased paid time off. If unsure what benefits offerings are common, looking at similar companies’ websites or Glassdoor profiles can help provide a comparison. Especially in today’s employee-driven market, some businesses have increased their benefits offerings in order to attract top talent. While not always feasible, some companies are able to offer or negotiate items such as student loan repayment, child care reimbursement or increasing hiring/signing bonuses.  


What to negotiate – and how: 

Negotiation is not an uncommon practice; however, candidates should only negotiate if they are interested in accepting the position and if they did not already receive what they originally wanted from an offer. Chances are, there have already been conversations regarding desired salary and benefits before reaching the final stages of the interview process, and if a candidate then changes their ask after the offer is received, it can be confusing and potentially create tension.  

If choosing to negotiate, the candidate should decide what their ask will be and lay it out at one time. Submitting all the asks at once can help minimize unnecessary back and forth and help come to an agreement sooner. While the most commonly negotiated item is pay, there are other elements to consider such as increased time off, increased stock options, parental packages, or remote work flexibility. Consider if there is a bonus or commission structure in place and if bonus potential is capped at a certain point. 

The best way to negotiate is via phone or video call to avoid the tone being misconstrued, and then followed up via email. The employer may accept the negotiated terms in full, may counter the offer with another, or may communicate their first offer is not able to be negotiated. If certain elements of the negotiation are rejected, for instance, if they do not agree to the negotiated salary, candidates may instead ask if the conversation could be revisited 6 or 12 months into the role. They also may ask if there are other perks that could make up for it, such as extra days of PTO. 

Negotiations, when done appropriately and fairly, should be an opportunity for both employer and candidate to define exactly what is expected of the relationship and what is best for both parties, and can be a way for hiring managers and their new employee to work together. However, if the employer’s final offer is not one that the candidate is comfortable with or willing to accept, they should be prepared to respectfully walk away. A career is a marathon, not a sprint, so candidates should consider the fit of the role and growth potential above all else – and negotiate the rest.  

If you’re looking for a new role, let us help. View our open roles here.  


Share the Post: