two people negotiating

Congratulations, you have a job offer! Now is the time to take a breath and think about what YOU want. Most employers will give 24-48 hours for you to make your decision, so ask for that time so you can consider how well the offer meets your needs.

Assess Your Needs

You may want to make a budget for yourself, to help you decide whether the initial salary offer makes sense. In addition to typical budget items, remember to include:

  • housing (will you need to relocate?)
  • transportation (will you need to purchase a car and insurance?)
  • clothing (will you need a new wardrobe to match the new work culture?)

Establish Your Priorities

Your compensation at work is more than just the salary. You might accept an offer with a good-enough salary if the organization also offers things like:

  • strong opportunities for promotion
  • professional development and mentoring in-house and/or education sponsorship
  • benefits (vision, dental, drug plan, extended health, pension/RRSP)
  • bonuses (stock options, relocation expenses, gym membership)
  • flexible hours of work and work-from-home options
  • vacation time (typical Ontario minimums are 2 weeks of paid vacation for salaried employees, 4% in lieu of vacation/benefits for hourly employees)

Negotiating the Offer

After determining your needs and establishing your priorities, compare it to the job offer. You may need to do further research on websites like Glassdoor on the organization or ask for more information from the potential employer. If you have all the facts and want to negotiate anything in the offer, you need to state your case in a positive and respectful manner. What do you have to offer in terms of skills, education or relevant experience that is unique? Pay attention to your language, tone and demeanor when delivering your message. State your request, provide the facts and provide examples from your research. 

“I’m really excited about working for XXX and wanted to talk to you about the starting salary. I did some research, looking at job postings of comparable positions and visited occupational websites, and the range for people with experience in the area is $00000-$00000. Given my extensive co-op experience in addition to the CSA certificate I completed last fall, I was hoping to start at $00000.”

Be aware that accepting a verbal offer can be a binding contract. Although the employer may not pursue legal action if you renege on the offer, you risk damage to your reputation in your industry because recruiters network with each other.