ENGINEERING CAREER SERVICES
 
ASSESSING AND NEGOTIATING YOUR JOB OFFER
                                                  
l With an offer from a company, can you negotiate in a "tough" job market?
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If you believe the company is open to negotiation, where should you begin?

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After assessing your goals and objectives, where can you find information about salary offers?
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Where can you learn more to evaluate the salary offer?

l Where can you learn more about benefit packages?
l Where can you learn more to begin and maintain the process of negotiation?
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You have evaluated your goals and gathered information, are you ready to begin negotiation?
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You have learned about negotiation and you do not have confidence in your skills to engage in a complicated negotiation process, but you do have a question. From your salary analysis your offer was $3,000 lower than your university and the national averages. What should you do?
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You are reluctant to begin the negotiation process, but you have two offers and one is $4,000 lower. You are not certain, but the benefits seem comparable. If the company with the lower offer is your first choice, can you ask for an increase based on the higher offer?

l You have only one offer and it is close to graduation, what if this is not the "ideal" job?
 
With an offer from a company, can you negotiate in a "tough" job market?
Is the employer willing to negotiate? In some cases, companies or government agencies are unwilling to negotiate because they have set hiring and compensation policies and procedures. During economic uncertainty, companies who negotiated in the past may be reluctant to spend time in negotiation. This requires diplomacy on your part to discover the receptivity to negotiation. Before negotiating, review the information and skills needed.
If you believe the company is open to negotiation, where should you begin?
During each interview, you concentrated on your goals and objectives. You learned from the campus and site visits how the company could provide opportunities to enhance your development. Now, is the time to assess the following:
l your career goals and objectives,
l your motivations, and
l the match between the opportunities offered by the company and your goals,
objectives, and motivations.
Why begin with you? If you are planning to negotiate, you need a clear understanding of the attributes and value that you bring to the company. How can you help the company achieve results? Negotiation is not a list of your wants or needs, but an opportunity to review the values of the company and assess how your motivation, knowledge, competencies, and understanding add value. You may decide that money is not the only consideration. Career development and satisfaction may have more relevance.

After assessing your goals and objectives, where can you find information about salary offers?

Successful negotiation requires knowledge and the ability to predict what the offer will provide in the future. The calculations for the future complicate the information you need. You must rely on your skill to calculate the value. For example, is the salary based on step increases related to performance? Bonuses? Evaluation of the offer may include the following:
l salary structure,
l benefits,
l relocation allowance, and
l bonuses.
Where can you learn more to evaluate the salary offer?
The easiest information to find is the salary data. Engineering Career Services (ECS) has data about offers for recent graduates and for students participating in summer, intern or cooperative education. If your offer is in another state, you may check the web sites of the universities located in that state. In addition to looking at the salary data, check web sites that provide cost of living indexes.
At ECS, check for information from the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE). NACE provides nationwide data on salary offers and surveys of their members related to employment trends.

Where can you learn more about benefit packages?

Assessing the value of a benefits package is more difficult because it is more intangible. Information to compare excellent to poor benefits is difficult or impossible to find. The benefits are often 30+% of the salary. In negotiation if you propose a higher salary, the company may point out, or counter, that their benefits package, allowances, or bonuses more than compensate for paying a higher salary. You will need knowledge to maintain the negotiation process.

Where can you learn more to begin and maintain the process of negotiation?

Yes, negotiation is a process. The process involves compromise. You do not open a conversation expecting to receive a higher salary because you ask. With the knowledge of the value you bring to the company and the value of the compensation offered, you need to develop a strategy.
This strategy involves the points that are important to you and where you can compromise. You should expect a counter or a request for justification from the employer for each demand you make. You must be ready to propose and acceptable position. Successful negotiation is likely to proceed through several stages of proposal and counter offer. With each counter offer from the employer, you need how close you are to your "bottom line." This is not a process to undertake lightly.
Where can you find information on the negotiation process? Your favorite bookstore has a variety of books in the career section on negotiation. A suggested resource is Negotiate Your Job Offer by Mary Simon. This book is easy to scan and takes you through the negotiation process and is available in room 308 of Marston Hall.
You have evaluated your goals and gathered information, are you ready to begin negotiation?
Is your attitude ready? This is your prospective employer and you want to enhance your professionalism and credibility. A positive outlook is important. The company has placed confidence in your capabilities by making an offer. You need to show your respect for the offer and create an understanding of the extra value you bring to the company that might influence the offer. What are your unique qualities? Where have you proven you can deliver results? You should create a "win-win" for both you and the employer. If you are not successful with your negotiation, you want to report to work with your professional reputation enhanced and intact.
You have learned about negotiation and you do not have confidence in your skills to engage in a complicated negotiation process, but you do have a question. From your salary analysis your offer was $3,000 lower than your university and the national averages. What should you do?
You have done your homework by checking the salary data and the cost of living indexes. You have checked your attitude and considered the value that you bring to the company. It is appropriate to ask the company if they can match the salary paid to students in your major at your university based on the value of your skill set. When you ask for additional salary, you need to clearly build you case to support the additional salary.
You are reluctant to begin the negotiation process, but you have two offers and one is $4,000 lower. You are not certain, but the benefits seem comparable. If the company with the lower offer is your first choice, can you ask for an increase based on the higher offer?
Yes, you can professionally contact the company with the lower offer and say that you have an offer that is $4,000 higher. You should not mention the name because companies prefer anonymity. If the company with the lower salary is likely to help you develop your career goals and objectives, you can ask for a salary increase based on your competencies and value to the company. You should be prepared for a "no." When you inquire professionally, the company should not be offended by your assertiveness.

You have only one offer and it is close to graduation, what if this is not the "ideal" job?

Once again, your attitude is important. Prepare for a positive surprise. You can more easily evaluate a job from the inside rather than the outside. Instead of looking for a new job, you may use your negotiation skills with your employer to enhance your career options.
With your first job, you should establish a strategy for career success. Acquire a library of career books and regularly check your favorite web sites. The transition to a career position is a process of adjustments. A paperback book that provides tips for the first year is The Ultimate New Employee Survival Guide "Make the Most of your Career from Day One" by Ed Holton. Become active in a professional organization to network with engineers outside your company.