Managing & Negotiating Offers

Factors to Consider when Evaluating an Offer

How closely does the offer match your career goals? Spend some time considering the following factors and what they mean to you and your career goals:

  • Nature of the work
  • Level of responsibility
  • Organizational culture
  • Location
  • Level of autonomy
  • Lifestyles of employees
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Work hours
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Travel and/or commute
  • Opportunities to learn and grow in job/company
  • Variety of work
  • Salary Benefits
  • Mentoring
  • Stability of organization
  • Stability of industry

UCS Staff would be happy to meet with you individually to discuss your options.

What additional information do you need to make a decision?

It is not unusual to discover, as you're weighing different factors about the offer, that you have additional questions, lack some factual data, or simply need a better sense of what the job/internship and organization are like. You may need to:

  • Call one of your interviewers and ask additional questions
  • Discuss other questions or concerns that impact your decision with UCS Staff

Are there issues you may want to negotiate that would bring the offer closer to your goal?

Perhaps the issues that concern you about the offer can be changed. If the job seems ideal except for one factor, then you might want to raise the issue withthe employer.

  • Consult the following section: Negotiating a Job Offer, before you consider negotiating any of the terms of your offer.

Multiple Offers?

You've worked hard on your job/internship search, and it has paid off: you have not one, but two or more companies interested in hiring you. Congratulations! While this is a great situation to be in, it does pose some challenges. Make a good decision by:

  • Considering the pros and cons about each offer
  • Referring to UCS Staff for advice
  • Reviewing the Factors to Consider (above) when evaluating a job offer
  • Not ignoring your gut instincts

Keep the door open for future opportunities.

Though Company A may be your first choice now, remember that Company B might seem very attractive in the future. Maintain a good relationship by tactfully turning down the offer.

If necessary, negotiate time to decide.

Rarely will all your offers come in on the same day, or even the same week. Because each company has a different hiring schedule, you may receive an offer before you've heard back from your first choice company. If that's the case:

  • Ask for additional decision-making time if you have a legitimate reason for doing so. Wanting to wait for Company B's offer is not a legitimate reason. This is basically telling Company A they are not your first choice, and that is not going to bode well if you end up wanting to take the job.
  • Use tact in all situations involving multiple offers or potential multiple offer situations.
  • Consult your UCS counselor or advisor for more information.

Negotiating an Offer

Often people are uncomfortable when it comes time to negotiate their salary and other benefits. You might not know what you should be paid. You may not fully understand the benefits package being offered. Before entering into any discussion or negotiation, you should have an idea of what is acceptable to you. Ask these questions:

  • What is the salary range for this position? What is the absolute minimum salary I would accept? What is the overall compensation package being offered?

Do Your Homework

It is very important that you gather information before you go into your interview. Consider the following when investigating salary:

  • The typical salary range and average for the position you are considering
  • The range for your major or field
  • Salaries for the same type of job may vary with geographic location

When to Discuss Salary

During the interview you should not be the first to bring up salary. Let the interviewer be the first to discuss it. Instead focus your energy on getting them to want you. Once you receive an offer this is the time to engage in any negotiations. Consider the following:

Do Not...

  • Be the first one to talk money
  • Discuss salary before an offer is made (The employer may use this to screen out applicants from the candidate pool)
  • Tell the employer the minimum salary you need to live
  • Commit yourself to a specific number (Leave room to bargain by giving a salary range)

Make Sure To...

  • Calculate your anticipated living expenses
  • Be reasonable in your approach
  • Have a salary range in mind before negotiations begin
  • Keep the discussion friendly (Arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement)
  • Get your agreement in writing

Consider the WHOLE financial package

Often job seekers are tempted to evaluate job offers on the basis of salary alone: the higher the salary, the better the offer - right? Not necessarily. When evaluating job offers, you should take care to consider all aspects of the offer and all forms of compensation. Consider the following:

  • Are there opportunities for overtime, bonus, commission?
  • How often would you be evaluated for pay increases?
  • Examine the cost of living differential between the two locations by using the national salary comparator.
  • Remember that signing or other types of bonuses are not an expected or required part of any job offer.

What are some of the other factors to consider when weighing total compensation?

One of the primary factors is employee benefits, such as health care plans and 401K or other investment/retirement plans. You should figure this as part of your total package. It can be seen as more money paid to you in the end. Employers may offer other benefits or forms of compensation that should be taken into consideration before jumping into a discussion about base salary. Some of these might include:

  • Stock Options
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Professional Memberships
  • Professional Development Opportunities
  • Trainings (computer, management)
  • Sign-on Bonus
  • Relocation Reimbursement
  • Free Parking
  • Additional Vacation Days

Consider what rationale you would use if you did decide to try to negotiate.

Contrary to what many experts say, not everything is negotiable. Most employers have more flexibility than they are willing to admit, but it can vary with the economic times, the salary structure within the company, and other factors.

  • Simply telling the employer that you think you should be earning more money is not good enough
  • If you are a graduate student, and you believe that the offer does not take your experience and higher degree into account, then you may choose to negotiate
  • The bottom line is that at this point in your career you need a really good reason, based on hard facts, to negotiate (What are you bringing to the table that requires extra money?)

Are there other issues you definitely want to negotiate?

It is usually possible to negotiate your decision-making deadline. In addition, it may be possible to negotiate your start date, location, and perhaps relocation assistance.

Meet with UCS Staff to discuss your offer

UCS has national and Northwestern entry-level, full-time salary data for average salaries in your intended career field.

Accepting or Rejecting Job/Internship Offers


  1. Upon receiving an offer by telephone, ask the employer for a written confirmation.
  2. Make sure that you and the employer understand each other's timetable. You and the employer should determine a mutually agreeable date by which you will make a decision.
  3. Be true to your word. If you promised the employer you would call on a certain date (for any reason), be sure to do so.
  4. You may accept a job/internship offer over the telephone. In addition, you may want to write an acceptance letter that states your appreciation of the offer as well as your enthusiasm and anticipation about starting your new position.
  5. You may turn down an offer over the telephone. If you were impressed with the employer, you may want to send a letter declining the offer that states your appreciation for the offer and your positive view of their organization. You MUST respond to ALL job/internship offers; it is critical that you contact those employers whose offers you choose not to accept.
  6. Stop all interviewing after accepting an offer.
  7. Do not renege after accepting an offer. This is highly unethical. This will undoubtedly damage your reputation with that employer and with that recruiter. It is not advised to start your career on the wrong foot.