Evaluating an Offer

Cost of Living Index

What is your salary worth? A salary of $25,000 in New York City has less purchasing power than a $25,000 salary in Atlanta. All cities have different cost of living standards. To become more familiar with the cost of living among various Unites States cities, the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Associations has developed a Cost-of-Living Index. The index numbers listed help determine the strength of your salary purchasing power when compared to different city cost-of-living indices.

Salary Negotiation

First Rule of NegotiatingThe first and most important thing you have to know about negotiating is that you do not have to negotiate. As a process, negotiating is not risk free, so negotiate only if there is something for which you really want to negotiate.

Focus on Mutual Gain

The person you negotiate with may be the person for whom you work. So when you go to negotiate, make your discussion into a problem-solving session, during which you focus on mutual gain.

What to Say When You Get the Offer

You should never feel that you need to accept an offer on the spot. After all, this is a major decision, so the fact that you would like time to consider the offer is reasonable.

So what do you say when you get the offer? That you are very excited about the offer. That while you feel very positively, this is a very important decision and that you would like some time to consider it. Ask if one (or two) weeks would be convenient. Be sensitive to the hirer’s needs and where this offer fits on your scale of priorities. If you push the decision-making time out too far, you could jeopardize the offer.

This is the time to clarify all questions you have about your offer, so the questions don’t appear to be negotiating points.

If you have reservations about corporate culture, or need to buy time, you may want to ask to come back to the organization and spend a day with the people with whom you would be working.

Accelerating Other Interviews

What if this offer is not the one you are most interested in, or you want another salary offer for comparative purposes? Use it to accelerate your job search process with all other organizations you have already contacted.

Call your contacts immediately to let them know you have another offer, that you are facing deadline pressure, but that you are very interested in their company, and is there any way they can accelerate their interview process?

Answers to Five Journalistic Questions

Who Negotiate with the hiring decision maker. This is typically the person who would be your boss, who has the most incentive to fight for your requests.

When After you have an offer, never before.

Where In person if possible.

Why Only if there is something you want.

What You can negotiate just about anything, but understand that each organization will have areas in which they can be flexible and areas in which they cannot. Also, some companies are sensitive about vacation time, so try to get an insider’s perspective and/or be very sensitive when trying to negotiate for this one.

A partial negotiation list includes:

  • salary signing bonus
  • commission stock options
  • time of review vacation time
  • personal time medical benefits
  • life insurance dental benefits
  • disability insurance
  • relocation package
  • house hunting
  • house purchase
  • assistance realty fees, closing costs
  • spouse career counseling
  • family relocation counseling

Establish Your Floor

Consider the very minimum you would be willing to accept. If your offer already meets that position, you have something to gain but also something to lose in the negotiation. If they haven’t met your floor, then you need to go for your bottom line.

Decide What You Want, Then Prioritize

It is very important to be clear on just what you want to negotiate for. Then, rank your points in terms of their importance to you.

Be Flexible

Be willing to give little things and unwilling to give up big ones. It will not help to fixate on a single issue if there is more than one way to get at it. You might quickly stop negotiating for small benefits enhancements and concentrate on the more important salary increase. For example, a request for more salary could also be met by a bonus or commission (get the % range), sign-on money, or an early review.

Start by Introducing All Negotiating Points

Say that you are very excited about the possibility of working together and that there are [number] points you would like to talk about, including . . . That way the person across the desk from you knows just what to expect and doesn’t feel your list of demands are endless. Then start with your number one negotiating priority and work backwards. Keep the number of requests reasonable.

Support Your Position

Don’t negotiate out of need. We all need something. Negotiate by rationally backing your position. For example, if you want to negotiate salary, cite salary surveys, past salary, or other offers to bolster your request.


The technique to negotiate upwards is to assume that the person will “split the difference.” So if you are looking for a $4,000 increase in salary, ask for $10,000 and you’ll probably get closer to your real desire.

Be sensitive to your negotiating partner. Make sure to watch your negotiating partner closely. Be attentive to signs that you may be pushing too hard, and be ready to back off on one or the rest of your negotiating points; especially if your offer meets your minimum criteria in the first place. Remember that you can lose the position in a bad negotiation, so be careful and observant.