Life After Pitt: Negotiating a Compensation Package

Your Job Offer

Congratulations, you are excited! You just received a job offer from the company you wanted. What’s next? Do you accept this first offer, especially when eager to get started? Or should you initiate a conversation about the compensation package with the prospective employer? According to Indeed, most employers do not expect you to take the first offer. Negotiating a compensation package can be challenging, but you want to ensure you receive the best offer possible.

Before we proceed, let us define a Compensation Package. According to Oyster Human Resources, a compensation package encompasses various elements beyond basic pay or salary. This includes, but is not limited to, health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, bonuses, stock options, and other benefits like flexible working hours or tuition reimbursement. It can also extend to intangible rewards, such as opportunities for professional development and recognition for excellent performance.

The Negotiation Starts

So, you have decided to discuss the compensation package with the employer. Remember, you are likely more experienced than you realize. Do not undersell yourself. Always link your salary expectation to industry norms and your experience.  Pay and experience will be address later in this article.If you have not already prepared for your negotiation conversation, it might be beneficial to have a strategy for the discussion.  Stay focused on your goal, do not make demands, and demonstrate to the employer that you have researched the industry standards. YouTuber Jeff Su recommends candidates maintain a worst-case scenario mindset in case their offer is declined. 

Incidentally, are you aware that gender can influence the likelihood of engaging in discussing compensation packages? According to the article ” Why women don’t negotiate their job offers “ by Harvard Business Review, research indicates that women are less likely than men to negotiate their salary offers.

  • Your Pay

Research the compensation package offered. According to Payroll Partners, starting pay usually falls within the minimum and midpoint range, depending on the candidate’s experience, education, the company’s budget (room for negotiation), location, and other factors. It is important to remember that a higher starting salary boosts your initial earnings but can also set the stage for your future financial success. 

Use salary calculators to determine the salary that you should expect based on industry standards, your skills, and experience. There are numerous methods and tools for calculating your potential salary to determine an appropriate salary range. You can     explore  Glassdoor , PayScale , , Salary Finder | CareerOneStop , and  CNN money calculator. Remember, location matters; it influences your earnings. Additionally, seeking advice from family and friends can also be beneficial. 

  • Your Experience

Consider re-introducing your experience into the conversation, including any internships you have completed to the discussion. Heather Krasna, an author, speaker, and public service career expert, notes, “Other experiences, such as leadership roles in student activities or sports, volunteer work, or less-relevant summer or part-time jobs, can add value. Ensure you highlight your experiences and skills, such as teamwork, exposure to diverse perspectives, time and conflict management, and delegation.”

  • Your soft skills 

In a LinkedIn article, “How to Negotiate Salary with Less Experience,” Gina Peckman suggests highlighting your soft skills during the negotiation. Understanding which soft skills the employer values in a candidate is essential. Handshake describes soft skills as a set of personal attributes, behaviors, and social attitudes that enable individuals to interact effectively with others in a workplace or social environment. These skills are essential for building healthy relationships, communicating effectively, solving problems, and collaborating with others. The article further explains that, unlike hard skills, soft skills are intangible and subjective qualities that cannot be measured or quantified. View Handshake’s list ofSoft Skills.

Your non-salary-related items

If you are still unsatisfied with the salary and the employer cannot increase their offer, you can explore negotiating another aspect of the compensation package. Pay Partner lists these items as today’s indirect compensation elements:

Educational incentivesMental health services like therapy or counselingVolunteer opportunitiesFlexible spending accounts  Hybrid working arrangementsPaid time offDisability insurancePaid holidays  Commuter benefitsChildcare initiativesRelocation stipends or housing optionsReimbursement for work-from-home costs  

      Additional items to consider for negotiating are the start date, 401K benefits, signing bonuses, and    

      stock options.

The Negotiation Ends

When discussing the job offer with the employer, ask about the deadline for your response. It is essential to receive all salary and benefit details in writing. Ask for more time, especially if you are weighing multiple offers. Indeed advises employers to allow candidates to spend time considering the offer and weighing the pros and cons before giving you a final answer.  Keep in mind that once you sign the job offer, your negotiation power shrinks or is no longer feasible. If the offer does not meet your needs, you may have to decline it. 

Accepting the offer: In a letter or email, express your gratitude to the employer for the opportunity. Specify the start date and any other pertinent information.

Declining the offer: Write a professional letter ensuring it maintains a positive attitude to preserve your relationship with the employer. 

Additional tips:

By Marie Newkirk
Marie Newkirk Assistant Director for Experiential Learning