How do I negotiate my job offer?

How do I negotiate my job offer?

How do I negotiate my job offer?

Congrats on the job offer! You’ve made it over the hump, now it’s time to iron out the details. With new grads, there’s typically 3 types of negotiation:

Start Date

Maybe they want you to start in May, the Monday after you graduate. Maybe they want you to start in December, several months after you graduate. Both can be less than ideal for different reasons. The point is that you have a different start date in mind.

The good news is start date is typically the easiest to negotiate. You generally just have to ask, and your reasons don’t need to be that deep. You can usually just say, “I’d like to travel a bit before settling down and fully committing to my career.” This is not viewed negatively at most places.

The hitch might be that your employer wants to onboard everyone at the same time, or there’s an internal project that needs you on it. Sometimes they’ll onboard you in advance with everyone else, but you won’t officially start until you want. As a new grad, projects usually aren’t dependent on you, so I don’t expect this to happen a ton.


This is the biggest thing. How do you get them to pay you more? A lot of places have salary bands or a dedicated range that they pay people based on qualifications. As a new grad, you’ll usually fall into the lowest band. Let’s talk strategies.

The first thing to consider is if you have another job offer in hand. If you have a second job offer that has a higher salary, ask them to match it. Employers understand this, even if they have firm salary bands. Sometimes they’ll re-classify the job posting to be a higher level so that they can match salaries. Sometimes they’ll make up the difference in a first-year bonus.

If you don’t have another job offer in hand, the key is phrasing. You can say something like, “It’ll be easier for me to sign right now if you could offer me X”. Make X something they could potentially agree to immediately. Some examples here include:

  • <$5,000 salary increase

  • Signing bonus

  • Relocation bonus

  • Fringe benefits such as a larger laptop budget, education budget, etc.

Generally, try to avoid giving numbers unless it’s a hard requirement (meaning, you would decline the job offer if that number isn’t met). You have more to gain by withholding specific numbers.

You might be worried that negotiating will ruin the relationship or result in your job offer being pulled, as long as you negotiate in good faith, this should never be a problem. By good faith, I mean being honest and committed. Here are some examples of big no-no’s:

  • Telling them you’ll sign if X, then not signing if they grant X

  • Telling them you have another offer that doesn’t exist

  • Telling them something is a hard requirement, then acquiescing it for no reason

If someone does pull your offer after a good faith negotiation (such as asking for a relocation bonus), this is a major red flag. This employer was probably going to end up being a toxic workplace and you’re lucky to find out early.

Assuming you successfully negotiate something, make sure you get it in writing! It should be written in your offer letter or contract. If someone confirms via email, but sends you their standard agreement, ask them to modify the agreement or send an addendum. You need it in writing, ideally signed by both parties. In good faith, this should never be a problem.

Onsite vs Remote

As jobs go back to being hybrid or even fully in-office, more and more people are trying to negotiate remote work. How you negotiate this depends on your situation. If the job made it clear that it was going to be in the office, but you suddenly try to negotiate remote days on the offer, this is bad faith by you. Employers will not look kindly on this situation and your offer may get pulled.

If your situation changed from the time that you interviewed to now, then you need to communicate honestly and openly. For example, if a family emergency is preventing you from relocating, then you need to tell your employer the situation. You could say, “I need to be home right now because of X, can I work remotely to start?” They might ask you to delay your start date, or some other compromise.

A separate scenario is if the job is hybrid, but you’d like to negotiate how many days are in the office vs remote. If the office requirement was stated as being flexible, you can negotiate these days in good faith. Some employers have an “anchor day”, which means a day that everyone must be in. Those days are typically non-negotiable.

In general, my advice is to go to the office. New grads have a lot to learn, and in-person is a great way to do it. As you become more senior and advance in your career, there will be opportunities to go fully remote. Unless your situation necessitates remote, leave this out of the negotiations.

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