Advocate for Yourself: Job-Offer Negotiation

Illustrated by Bridget Rios

Felix Dong

Staff Writer

Senior year is usually when students start thinking about job opportunities and internships to launch into their careers. Applying to jobs can be an incredibly stressful process with no end in sight. 

Imagine after months of editing your resume and cover letter, networking with professionals in your desired industry or company, and interviewing with recruiters and hiring managers, you finally get an offer! Deciding whether to take that first offer presents another crucial part of the job-seeking process.

When presented with an offer, it is important to not undersell yourself. According to Glassdoor, in 2018, “59 percent of American employees accepted the salary they were first offered and did not negotiate.” When looking at the breakdown in terms of gender, “women negotiated less than men,” the results show that, “68 percent of women accepted the salary they were offered and did not negotiate, a 16-percentage point difference when compared to men (52%).” If we look more closely, we can also see how not only gender but other factors such as race and disabilities can affect pay as well.

When looking specifically at new graduates, a NerdWallet study found that only 38% of new graduates negotiate with their employer once they have received their job offers. A valid concern that new graduates have is being afraid the company might revoke their offer because a qualified candidate asked for more than was originally offered. 

However, the same study shows that about 90 percent of employers said that trying to negotiate for an entry-level position never disqualifies a candidate. Companies often have the capacity to adjust a job offer, and if there is a firm salary cap, other benefits such as location, travel, work-hour flexibility, promotion, and higher education can be negotiated.

Graduating from a four-year university is a big accomplishment, and it is important not to underestimate the value of your education. The academic and professional experiences students gather throughout their years at university are enough preparation to show that students are qualified and ready for their future. Getting an offer should mean your employer values your skill sets and the experiences you bring, so negotiation should not be off the table! It means not settling for less and knowing your worth, which might mean rejecting offers if companies are unwilling to negotiate. Walking away can present opportunities for finding jobs that better suit your needs in terms of the type of work, benefits, salary, location, and culture.

Negotiation should be encouraged because of the lack of pay transparency by a company and an outdated belief that workers should not talk about their wages with others; however, by discussing with other workers about salary, the conversation about pay equity opens up and workers can begin to collaborate and support one another. Some steps have been made by state governments to reduce the wage gap. Several states, including California, have laws in place that ban employers from asking about previous pay and require them to disclose a pay range. Until more changes are made to fix wage gaps and advocate for fair pay, negotiation is a skill that all job seekers should practice and review and is a step that all job-seekers should take to advocate for themselves.