Why should I negotiate?

One of the hardest parts of being on the job market is negotiating for yourself once you have an offer. The expectation is to feel grateful no matter what compensation you are offered, but the truth of the circumstances is that this feeling only helps the employer. While negotiating can be terrifying for some people, the importance in negotiating effectively rests in what is to be gained, or lost. There is a lot at stake!

Employers expect negotiation as part of the hiring process. Your ability to communicate thoughtfully and collaboratively in the negotiation demonstrates that you will be able to take this approach with your colleagues and clients. Negotiating can also be seen as a respectable and admirable quality when done correctly.

The primary point for most people is the value of their monetary compensation. Salary negotiation has both immediate and long-term benefits. Consider that a two to four percent increase in your initial salary can translate to over one million dollars of earnings over your lifetime. That amount could send your child to Harvard four times over. While the amount may not seem like much at first, remember that subsequent raises will be based off your current salary, and if you decide to leave your job, you can gain leverage on your next salary as well.

While salary is important, you must also consider the entire package within the offer. Does it give you financial support for continuing education, insurance, paid time off, gym memberships, childcare, travel stipends, moving expenses, and help locating housing? These additional benefits can dramatically increase the value of your job offer, and must be assessed correctly when estimating your total compensation. Just remember this: You have more leverage at the time of the offer than at any other point in the job search. Take this opportunity to ask for the things that will make you a productive, satisfied employee. If you don’t, you may really lose out in the end.

Written by Kyle Carmack, Graduate College Career Development Office