Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Guide to Negotiating

How to Ask for More Time, or More Money

Students are often intimidated by negotiating, but when done in a professional manner, the risk of "losing" an offer is low and the rewards can be high. Whether you are asking for more time to decide on an offer, or looking for a more competitive compensation package, negotiating is an essential skill to develop.

Before you negotiate, it is important to understand your offer. Potential employers should be willing and able to explain the details of the offer. Resist the urge to negotiate until you have answers to all of your questions. As you do this, remember to update other employers to notify them that you have a "competing offer" and would like their help to accelerate the application process, potentially leading to more leverage or at least a more consolidated decision timeline.

Always go into a negotiation prepared. Use our recommended resources, including our favorite blog post and video, to learn about how to properly negotiate. Students are often surprised to learn that negotiations should be done live (by phone, not email) to allow for back-and-forth and better perception that cannot be attained with text alone. And while a successful negotiation outcome is not always possible, many situations that at first seem "non-negotiable" might actually have possible "win-win" solutions, especially if you have accurately identified your leverage and think creatively.

Do your homework. There are numerous sources for researching compensation, including: Levels, PayScale, Glassdoor, and the H1B Salary Database (one of our favorites because it is reported by the employers, not the employees). Don't just research your company and specific role. Also look into their competition to estimate your market value and consider the area's cost-of-living. You may also want to use your network to gather more compensation data that can influence your strategy.

Create your plan. 

  • Remember, you can negotiate more than just monetary compensation (base, bonus, and equity). For example, consider requests related to start dates, team or project assignments, housing or transit assistance, work schedule and time off, early performance reviews, and funding for training opportunities. 

  • Sort your list of specific requests from highest priority to lowest priority. Salary is often top of the list since pay raises and bonuses are usually a percent of base salary (accruing the benefits of financial compounding). Consider each request from the employer's perspective as well. For example, they might be more willing to provide a higher sign-on bonus since it's a one-time cost. 

  • Use your leverage. Competing offers are ideal, but you can also mention the possibility to decline other interviews if a deal is made.

  • Stay positive and enthusiastic, especially at the beginning and end. You don't want to send the impression that you are using them as a bargaining chip. Remember that the optimal outcome is an agreement where you join their team, so treat them accordingly. Thank them for considering your requests. 

Avoid common mistakes. 

  • Don't assume you are being selfish or too bold by negotiating. If you are nervous, think in terms of negotiating not just for yourself, but for others (your family, future family, etc.). Women in particular may have unique challenges when it comes to negotiating, which has been researched and explained well by Linda Babcock, author of Ask for It.

  • Be strategic with when and how you disclose details during a negotiation. For example, mentioning the name of another employer might play to your advantage, or it might not. You have no obligation to share information (although doing so might increase your leverage).

  • Know the numbers. Aim higher, expecting to find middle ground. Don't use a range since a good negotiator will always take the bottom number. Avoid round numbers that imply a lack of rationale. Use the anchoring bias to your advantage by being the first to suggest a new number.

  • Some employers may provide a salary range.  It is unwise to seek compensation outside (above) this range.  Don't be afraid to start near the top, but exceeding the employer's defined compensation expectations could be risky.

  • Remember that time is usually on your side. An earlier offer decision from you has value to them since it reduces the likelihood of other opportunities. When pressured, it's reasonable to request time to think about it and get support from someone your trust. Having said that, be respectful of their goals and don't ask for more time than you need to make a well-informed decision.

Practice, practice, practice. Even with a strong case and lots of research, getting the wording right can be hard. Practice sharing your justifications for each request. Strive to be more comfortable with hearing "no." Don't immediately abandon a request before expressing curiosity by asking why, which might uncover new opportunities or understanding. Use your plan to politely shift the conversation when an agreement on a particular request is not made. Remember that employers often negotiate daily, so it's not as uncomfortable or new for them.

Ask for it. When you are ready, email the employer thanking them for the offer and reiterating your interest. Request a call to negotiate before you decide. Wait until the call to make your specific requests. Follow up after the call with an email recap of agreements made or next steps discussed.

Negotiation comes down to confidence, strategy, practice, and empathy. We love when students tell us we helped them get a job. We also love it when they thank us for helping them get more time to make the right decision on an offer, or better compensation for their talents and potential. Want help with your unique situation? Our team is ready to help. Just schedule an appointment with us!