Job Offers: What To Do About Negotiations, Issues, and Common Concerns

Author: Elizabeth Kolb, Class of '20

Negotiating Job Offers

For many industries with fall recruiting cycles, it’s the most wonderful time of the year - job offer season! Accounting, healthcare, consulting, and engineering industries have recently been sending out job offers to their best candidates. Negotiating a job offer with an employer can be an intimidating situation, but it doesn’t have to be! 

So you’ve got an offer - what now?

First of all, congratulations! Your hard work has paid off. If you decide you want to accept the offer, make sure you are aware of the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development’s Ethical Job Search Policies. Both students and employers involved in the on-campus recruiting process at Notre Dame must adhere to a set of rules when offering and accepting a job. Employers, for their part, agree to give students a reasonable amount of time to consider the offer before it expires. Read over these tips on evaluating your job offer to make an informed decision.

If your offer expires before two weeks from the offer date, schedule an exploding offer appointment with a career counselor, and we will help you work through your situation.

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Many college students don’t have any experience negotiating a job offer, but this can be a vital part of the process. Ray Vander Heyden, the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development’s career counselor for accounting, actuarial science, corporate finance, insurance, and real estate, provided some insight on how students should approach a job offer discussion.

“If you are negotiating your offer, make sure you bring facts and figures to the negotiation,” Ray said. “I recommend looking beyond salary, too - you can also negotiate signing bonuses and relocation allowances.” 

The Center for Career Development has access to data on salaries from first-destination surveys and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) that can serve  as useful information when attempting a negotiation. By discussing your negotiation process with a career counselor, we can help you figure out how much, and what to ask for. Glassdoor and Salary.com are other resources for finding legitimate information about starting salaries.

“Bigger companies who hire a lot of college students are going to be more reticent about changing offers,” Ray warned, “Smaller companies and start-ups who don’t hire as many college students are probably more likely to be open.” Bigger companies will be more reluctant to change their salary offers for one new hire, since they might then have to change it for everyone else, too. This is why you should look beyond the salary, since signing bonuses and relocation allowances might be more negotiable. 

What about start dates?

Start dates, like salaries, are also negotiable. Depending on the sort of offer you’re receiving, you might be able to say when you want to start. Some programs might have fixed start dates, and some employers might even negotiate putting your offer on hold for a year if you are accepted into a fellowship program like the Fulbright. This depends on your offer, your employer, and your circumstances. 

Sometimes, companies that depend on other clients, like sales, advertising, or consulting, depending on the timing of their projects, might ask to push back the start date of your offer. “Typically, this is not a matter of concern, and job offers are almost never rescinded,” according to Ray, who can count on one hand the number of rescinded offers he’s seen in his fifteen years at the Center for Career Development. 

However, if your start date has been pushed back significantly multiple times and you begin feeling uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to start considering other options. A start date delay of a few weeks probably isn’t something to worry about, but if it keeps happening there might be a problem. Definitely come in to discuss with a career counselor if you’re in this sort of position - they’re here to help provide guidance with difficult situations like these.

We can help!

If you have a job offer and you have any questions, the Center for Career Development can help with negotiations, start date delays, exploding offers, as well as simply talking through your offer. Counselors are always willing to help make sure you are comfortable with all aspects of a job offer (including benefits, 401k matches, signing bonuses, etc). 

If you have any questions or concerns about your job offer, call our office at (574) 631-5200 and mention you want to talk about an offer - we will help you meet with a counselor as quickly as possible.