Young Alumni: How to negotiate a job offer in five simple steps

Picture this: You’ve got the job offer, and the hiring manager has sent you details about your compensation. What are your next steps?

Especially for recent college graduates who are new to the job market, it can be difficult to negotiate compensation, benefits, or responsibility. But self-advocacy is a crucial element of a successful and fulfilling career — and one that often begins with your very first job offer.

It’s important to assess whether an offer matches your needs or whether you need to negotiate something different. Negotiating can seem scary at first, but you don’t need to worry: there are steps you can take to ensure that you approach negotiations with confidence and composure.

1) First, recognize that if a company offers you a job, they are invested in you. In fact, many companies expect you to communicate openly with them about your needs and compensation.
When you are trying to negotiate your offer, know these things:

What you’re being offered
What you want
What you bring to the table

2) Do some research and understand how the compensation package you’re being offered stacks up against industry standards. All Ole alums can reach out to the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career for information about industry benchmarks regarding compensation and skill level.

3) Then, decide what else you want or need out of your offer — not just in terms of the salary, but in terms of the total compensation package. Components such as benefits, remote work opportunities, and vacation days can be negotiated just like a salary can.

4) Reinforce and remind the hiring team of your skills, your past accomplishments, and your enthusiasm for the role. You should be confident in the value that you are bringing, and their offer in turn should fairly reflect and honor that value. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what you’re asking for: to be treated and compensated equitably.

5) Remember: the Piper Center has career resources available for Ole alumni. If you are in search of additional career advice and counseling, you can reach out to Piper Center Associate Director of Alumni Career Services Jenele Grassle. More resources and a link to book an appointment with Jenele are available on the Alumni Career Services page.

What about after the job offer? If you feel your performance and accomplishments warrant a compensation review, more responsibility, or a promotion, the same things apply: know what you want, what you’re worth, and what you’re good at. Express your worth and value as well as your commitment to the company’s mission. Point to your accomplishments. Remember that the people you work for hired you for a reason: they saw the worth in you and your skills, and those skills should be valued accordingly.

You should be valued for your accomplishments and your growth throughout your career. By advocating for yourself and expressing confidence in your own skills, you can cultivate a culture of respect, recognition, and empowerment for yourself and for those with whom you work.