Evaluating An Offer & Negotiating Salary

Evaluating Job Offers
Accepting/Declining the Offer
Salary Negotiation
Additional Resources

Evaluating Job Offers
Deciding whether to take a particular job offering or choosing between different jobs offers can be difficult. Although there is not a universal set of criteria that will determine whether or not you should take one job over another, there are some key considerations that might help you in this process . Below are seven key factors and associated questions individuals often use to evaluate a job offer:

1. Job Content: It is important to consider: (a) whether you are interested in the mission of the organization and its products or services, (b) whether you will enjoy the specific job responsibilities of the position and (c) whether the position will allow you to develop professionally:

  • Will you be proud of where you work?
  • Do you know your job responsibilities and are you excited by them?
  • Where will this position ultimately lead you? How does the position help you toward your long-term career goals?

 2. Your Boss: Although things change rapidly in many organizations, it is important that there by good chemistry between you and your prospective supervisor:

  • Will he or she be a good mentor?
  • Is he a self-confident person who will be genuinely interested in your success or will he be threatened by you?
  • Do you feel comfortable with her management style?

3. Your Co-Workers: Your work environment will largely be shaped by the individuals with whom you work. Try meeting with some of the people you will actually be working with day to day before you accept a position:

  • How was your rapport with your interviewers?
  • Were they professional?
  • Are they people you would enjoy working with?
  • Team players?

4. Salary and Benefits: Conduct research on the competitive range for salary for your position. Online resources, such as O*net and the Occupational Outlook Handbook found on the Piper Center Web page under the “Explore Careers” tab, can help:

 5. Lifestyle Considerations: It is important the demands of the position fit with your overall lifestyle. Consider the following when evaluation the position:

  • In general, can you achieve a comfortable work-life balance?
  • What is the customary number of hours required each week?
  • How much travel will be required?
  • Do they believe in “comp time”?
  • Will they be flexible in the case of family emergencies?

 6. Organizational Values/Culture: When interviewing, particularly on-site, try to take note of the type of organizational culture and whether or not it meshes well with your personality and values. Such considerations might be:

  • Is the organization rigid or flexible? Is it casual or formal?
  • Does the dress code suit your preferences?
  • Do you feel comfortable in the physical office/field environment (e.g. light, space)?
  • Is it bottom-line oriented? People oriented? Mission oriented?

 7. Location: Consider the physical logistics of working at this organization, including:

  • Is the job based in a desirable place to live? Is the physical location isolated or are there conveniences nearby?
  • How long is the commute? Is there a public transportation option?
  • Is parking available?

It may be that the person who makes you the offer refers you to someone in Human Resources to discuss the details of the benefits package.  If so, make sure to call HR and ask any questions you may have.

Information adapted from Flecter School/Tufts “Evaluating Job Offers and Negotiating Salary” (2013). 

Accepting the Offer

Once you’ve made the decision to accept an offer, inform the employer verbally.  They may also ask for it in writing.  You may also want to get a formal offer from them in writing at this point if you haven’t already.  After officially accepting an offer, withdraw from any other search where you are being considered.  It is unethical to continue searching for a “better” offer after you have accepted one.

Declining the Offer

If you decide to decline an offer, do so in a polite and respectful manner.  Let the employer know that you appreciate the offer, but that you have chosen to decline.  They may ask for a reason, and you may choose to provide them with one if you wish.  It is recommended that you be as tactful as possible so that you do not burn any bridges.

Salary Negotiation

Approaching and handling the discussion regarding salary can be difficult and uncomfortable. Use the following tips to aid you in your salary negotiation.

Salary Negotiation Tips:

  1. Be truthful when discussing your salary history.
  2. Reflect upon, but do NOT disclose your minimum salary figure.
  3. Get the employer to name the salary figure first.
  4. When a range is named, affirm the top number. For example, if the employer states the range for the position is $37,000 to $47,000 per year, you might respond by stating, “$47,000 sounds fair when compared with the other opportunities I am considering.
  5. Consider the total compensation package.What is the value of your vacation time, healthcare benefits, flex time, etc?
  6. Never accept an offer immediately. Tell the employer that you appreciate the opportunity, but need to take some time to consider the offer.
  7. Be professional when turning down an offer. The people you met at organization A could be your colleagues at organization B in a year or two.
  8. Know your value: If the salary offered is lower than you are willing to accept, make a list of what you would bring to the employer, including background, skills, experience, and education that match the job description. When speaking to a hiring representative, show your initiative and desire to make a contribution

Salary Discussion during the Interview:

  1. Timing is everything: Avoid discussing salary until you are offered the position. Delaying the discussion of salary will give you time to do research and determine your market value relative to the specific position and give you the opportunity to convince the prospective employer that you are the one for the job.
  2. Do Your Research: Armed with information about the industry, the organization, its competitors, the function and the specific position as well as the cost of living where the job is based, you will have the leverage you need to negotiate the best offer possible. Check out resources on the “Explore Careers” on the Piper Center Website under the “Majors and Careers Tab.” Some great resources include
  3. Last Resort: Many employers will persist in requesting salary information, or may state that only candidates who provide this information will proceed in the interview process. First, try to respectfully change the subject. Some examples of how to direct the conversation away from specific numbers include:  “I’d be happy to talk about that at the appropriate time.  Why don’t you tell me more about …?”
  • “Before we get to that, let me make sure I’m even in your ballpark.  What is the salary range for this position?”
  • “I’m not comfortable discussing salary at this stage.  Perhaps we can do so when we meet in person (or after learning more about the responsibilities)?”
  • “For a person with the skills and experience you want, I’d expect that this position would not pay less than ‘x.’  Correct?”
  • “I don’t wish to discuss salary until I develop a better understanding of the challenges of the position.”
  • “I’m sure we can come to a salary agreement if I’m the right person for the job.”

If you are pressed to give a salary expectation, give a range.  Use statements such as, “I am considering opportunities between $40,000-$50,000 in total compensation. Make sure that the lower end of the range is a salary that you would find acceptable

Information adapted from Fletcher School/Tufts “Evaluating Job Offers and Negotiating Salary” (2013). 

Additional Resources

For more information on evaluating a job offer visit:
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Offer Evaluation Checklist
Accepting/Rejecting a Job Offer

For more information on salary negotiation visit:
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Industry Specific Salary Charts
US Salaries by Title, Industry and Location
US Government GS Schedules
Job/Internship Search with GlassDoor
Spotlight on Careers

Many new graduates weigh the decision heavily on the salary offered.  It is important to be aware of your financial obligations and income in order to set up a responsible budget and live within your means.  For more information and resources on managing your money and creating a budget visit:
Graduates Guide to Life & Money
University of North Texas Student Money Management Center
see also How to Negotiate a Full Time Position