You nailed your interview and are flying high with a shiny new job offer. Congrats! Now what?
When you receive a job offer, do not accept or decline right away. It is standard and expected for you to take time to consider an offer, even if it’s your dream job. This means doing your research on your salary, building a budget, considering retirement plans, looking at healthcare plans, professional development opportunities, understanding your vacation and sick time, understanding health and disability leave, and bonuses.
A verbal acceptance is as valid as a written acceptance. Going back on a verbal acceptance is considered reneging on an offer of employment. Reneging is a severe violation of our recruiting policy, and will have serious ramifications on your job-searching while on campus.
If you are considering multiple offers, take your time to do thorough research and pick the best option for you. If you have an offer but are waiting for a decision from an organization that you would prefer, request an extension on the original offer so that you can evaluate them both side-by-side.
For guidance on negotiating and evaluating the offer, review the below information. After you do some research, if you'd like more support or to talk through the negotiation process, we recommend scheduling an Offers & Negotiations appointment.
Asking for an Extension
Employers will usually allow for a few weeks, and sometimes longer, for you to make a decision on an entry-level position. If the decision date approaches and you need more time, email the recruiter/contact two weeks in advance (when possible) of the deadline to request an extension for two weeks beyond the deadline. Below is an example email.
Dear [Mr./Ms./Mrs. Recruiter Last Name]:
Thank you for the opportunity to work with Morgan Stanley as an Investment Banking Analyst. I am most appreciative of your offer, and am very interested in the position. However, I have committed to several organizations for second-round interviews and would like to see these through to completion. I am writing to request a delay in my response date until [two weeks beyond deadline] to collect all of the information I need to reach this important decision. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Sincerely, Your Name
Considering the Offer
When considering your offers, do your research on salaries. You can research industry standards using tools like Salary.com, Glassdoor, Payscale, and Job Search Intelligence. Job Search Intelligence allows you to enter your degree level and school so that you can get information that is more specialized.
While you research salaries, we recommend having an idea of your personal budget and cost of living in the area. There are many free Cost of living calculators online. First, it is important to know that your take home pay (Net Salary) is different from your base pay (Gross Salary). Use an online paycheck calculator to get a sense of you actual Net Salary that you will receive each month after taxes.
Common costs to include on your budget are: rent, groceries, commuting expenses, auto or home insurance, health insurance estimates, utilities, student loan repayments, cell phone bills, and cable/internet. There are some services out there to help you create a budget! You Need a Budget provides free trials to students, and Mint is an app that you can download for free for real-time budget management.
Paid time off/vacation/sick leave
Take a close look at the sick time, vacation, and holidays. Project out how many you receive of each in a year so that you can plan your baseline needs and see from there. There may be restrictions on taking PTO in your first few months on the job. Your salary is not the most important number – be mindful of these figures. Also take a look into disability and medical leave – accidents and sickness can happen to anyone.
Healthcare plans are a famously difficult to navigate. We recommend that you go through this glossary to understand many related terms and aspects of health benefits. Students frequently ask about:
Copay – The amount that you pay at the office after receiving health services.
Deductible – The amount that you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan begins to pay for you.
FSA, or Flexible Spending Account/Arrangement – Money that is set aside into a separate account through an arrangement between you and your employer to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars. This money is not taxed, and you get to decide how much to set aside from each paycheck.
As you familiarize yourself with health plans, be sure to calculate the cost per paycheck, and include this in your budget estimates. Also explore dental and eye insurance, as these are often offered separate from general health insurance.
Even if you’re accepting your first job, be sure to look into retirement plans offered at the organization. It's never too early to start saving with a retirement plan. Often, companies will match your investment on a scale, or according to a certain percentage over a period of time. Sometimes a company will require that you work for a certain period of time before they begin to match. Other times, an employer will match right away but only allow you to keep the money that they invest if you work for a set period of time (usually 1-3 years). This is called a vesting period. Familiarize yourself with these details, especially if you plan on transitioning into a new industry or organization, or if you’re thinking about returning to graduate school. Also check to see if your company provides a 401k or a 403b – these are separate options that impact where your money is invested.
Many employers will offer fringe benefits (benefits that are offered to all employees that do not require enrollment immediate) such as transportation programs, discounts with national brands (car rental, hotels, etc.), gym memberships/exercise programs, free/reduced lunch programs. Read through these fringe benefits so that you know what opportunities exist!
Often employer benefits go beyond the numbers. Does the company offer opportunities for tuition reimbursement, or supporting you to pursue another degree? Money for conferences, seminars, or professional association memberships? Do they provide maternity leave, child care, wellness programs, or mental health counseling? Other benefits may include incentives for homeownership locally to the company, free food, access to kitchens at work, and more. These perks impact your life and wellbeing!
Negotiating the Offer
Once you have your baseline budget created and understand the possible salaries you could receive, do some personal evaluation and prep for a negotiation. We recommend ALWAYS negotiating. Start with negotiating the salary, and if that is not possible there is always something else you can ask for.
When negotiating salary, have a range that you would be comfortable accepting, your highest ask and the lowest you would accept. To create your range, use the median salary you’ve researched as your low-point, and provide a reasonable cap as your high point. Generally, do not ask for more than 10% increase of the base salary offer amount.
If an employer says that salary is not negotiable, negotiate other parts of your benefits package:
- Ask for more vacation time - Generally this is a set amount, but you can ask for more paid time off in lieu of higher salary.
- Ask for a starting bonus - Companies offer bonuses for different reasons, and often to incentivize a hire. The timing also depends on the job - it can be awarded at signing, after a year of service, or on a variety of other timelines. If you accept a signing bonus, make sure you know the terms of the bonus, as you may have to repay if you leave the job before the agreed upon period.
- Ask if they can cover relocation costs - Have an idea of costs so that you can provide a number if prompted.
- Ask for a later/earlier start date
- Ask for professional development funding/funding to travel to conferences