Office of Career Services

Transition to Work

You’ve mastered resumes, networking and interviewing, and you’ve almost reached your goal. Don’t forget a few last—but very important—points.

Negotiating the Offer

You did it! You successfully conducted the interview and got the offer. You’re in the home stretch and ready to start your new gig. To seal the deal, be sure to use your research and communication skills to negotiate for the best possible package, not just salary. For a printable copy, download Negotiating Your First Position (pdf), or review the following advice:

Be Prepared

During your job search process, research:

“Survivability” salary: minimum salary you need to survive, including cost of living

Competitive salary: your market “worth” based on type of work/profession and geographic location (e.g.

salary.com, National Association of Colleges and Employers annual Salary Survey in Career Services Resource Center)

Job factors: Rank order the factors for each employment opportunity including, but not limited to, salary with 1 being most important:

  • _____Salary
  • _____Benefits (insurance, retirement, vacation)
  • _____Starting date
  • _____Location
  • _____Training/Use of Experience
  • _____Travel
  • _____Skill Transferability
  • _____Advancement Potential
  • _____Job Status
  • _____Learning Potential
  • _____Significant Responsibility
  • _____Creativity
  • _____Variety of Responsibility
  • _____Independence
  • _____Company Image
  • _____Quality of Management
  • _____Industry Growth
  • _____Relocation costs

The Job Offer

You are not ready to start negotiations until you have received a formal job offer.

Type of offer:

  • “First Offer, Best Offer”
  • Negotiation is OK and expected

Usually there is less room to negotiate a salary or benefits if:

  • job is low-level
  • company is bureaucratic
  • corporation possesses a detailed compensation plan
  • there are more candidates for a position than there are available jobs

Responding to an Offer

  • Listen carefully to any offer that is made and make sure you get the details in writing
  • Make certain they know how excited you feel about the new job
  • Respond that this is a very important decision and you would like time to consider it.
  • Determine the time frame you have in which to decide

Weighing the Offer

Weigh carefully the offer you receive against your researched criteria and other offers. Consider all factors, including:

  • Salary (with or without overtime)
  • Bonuses
  • Retirement plans (and plan portability)
  • Health care benefits (and how much you pay out of pocket)
  • Vacation (and when you can start to use it)
  • Training
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Other benefits (e.g. company car, gas allowance, laptop, fitness center pass, etc.)

Question yourself about:

  • The Position (e.g. Why is it available? What is your growth potential in this position? Do the daily work activities appeal to you?)
  • The Company (e.g. Is the company growing or downsizing?)
  • Your Potential Supervisor (e.g. How long has he/she been in this position? Do you think you can work well with this person? Realize this person has the power to make or break your experience.)

Multiple Offers, Accelerating Other Interviews and Continuing to Interview

  • Call your contacts immediately to let them know you have another offer, that you are facing deadline pressure, but that you are very interested in their company, and is there any way they can accelerate their interview process?
  • Be up front with all companies involved.
  • Keep in mind that this could back fire on you.

The Negotiation Process

Rules of Negotiating

  • You do not have to negotiate.
  • Negotiate with the hiring decision maker.
  • Focus on mutual gain.
  • Consider the very minimum you would be willing to accept.
  • Decide what you want, then prioritize.

Steps to Negotiating

  • Introduce all negotiating points: “I am very excited about the possibility of working together and that there are [number] points I would like to talk about, including….” Keep the number of requests reasonable. Always start with salary first.
  • Rationally support your position by citing research and examples.
  • Negotiate: Assume that the person will “split the difference.” Watch your negotiating partner closely for signs that you may be pushing too hard. Be willing to give little things and unwilling to give up big ones.

Keys to Salary Negotiations

  • Have a minimum salary figure in mind but don’t tell the employer.
  • Never be the first one to mention a salary figure. On an application, write “open.” Answer the interview question, “What is the minimum you’ll accept?” with:”What is the salary range for this position?” or “I will consider any reasonable offer.”
  • When you hear the figure or range, repeat the figure or the top of the range, and then be quiet. You may encourage the employer to offer a higher salary. If you are satisfied with the salary offer (e.g. it is above your minimum) accept it. If it’s too low, you can tell them it’s too low. Counter their offer with your researched response.

Decision Time

  • Once you decide to accept or reject an offer, it’s best to send a written letter confirming your decision. If you accept the offer, get all the agreed upon terms in writing. Draft your own letter outlining the terms that have been agreed upon if necessary. Don’t use the word “contract.” If you reject the offer, keep your correspondence prompt and professional. Leave the company with a positive impression of you, since you may want to work for them in the future.
  • Once you accept an offer you cannot accept another. Call and decline any other standing offers, and notify other companies that you are no longer on the market.
  • Send a warm thank-you note to every person involved in your search.

Transition to The World of Work

Since you’ve proven yourself at Southwestern as a strong leader, communicator, researcher and writer, life on the job should be a piece of cake, right? Not so fast! The world of work is a different environment with different rules for success than college (read below or download College vs. The World of Work). For 12 steps to first-year on-the-job success, download My First Job Survival Guide. Also get helpful advice from The Protocol School of Texas’ Executive Etiquette Tips for Succeeding in the Workplace.

College The World of Work
Frequent, quick and concrete feedback (grades, etc.) Infrequent and less precise feedback
Highly structured curriculum and programs with lots of direction Highly unstructured environment and tasks with few directions
Few significant changes Frequent and unexpected changes
Flexible schedule Structured schedule
Frequent breaks and time off Limited time off
Personal control over time, classes and interests Directions and interests dictated by others
Intellectual challenge Organizational and people challenges
Choose your performance level (e.g. A, B, C) A-level work required all the time
Focus on your growth and development Focus on getting results for the organization
Create and explore knowledge Get results with your knowledge
Individual effort Team effort
“Right” answers Few “right” answers
Independence of ideas & thinking Do it the company’s way
Professors Bosses
Less initiative required Lots of initiative required