Negotiating a job offer

So you've been offered the job—congratulations! Normally, you should provide a response within about 24 hours. Before you accept a position, make sure you've clarified or considered the following:

  • What specific activities, responsibilities and tasks will you be working on? 
  • How much will you be paid? Is the pay an hourly wage or an annual salary? 
  • What hours will you work? Is there room for flexible hours? Is overtime or travel expected?
  • Does your employer offer medical or dental benefits or contribute to a pension? 
  • Will you be part of a union? What are the union dues? 
  • How much annual vacation time will you receive?
  • What would your start date be?

Determine if you want to negotiate the terms of employment

Negotiation may not be possible for all job offers, but it can be worthwhile to ask. Negotiation is an opportunity for you and the employer to share information to reach an arrangement that benefits you both. (Effective negotiation is a skill that can take years of experience to master, so cut yourself some slack—it's normal to feel nervous!)

The best way to enter a negotiation is to be prepared. Before you start the negotiation, write down your needs based on what’s realistic. Research the needs of the employer organization, too. Once you sit down with the employer, state your needs as clearly as you can and work with them to brainstorm ways that both your needs can be met. Work towards an agreement and discuss how you can implement this agreement.

Sample negotiation (salary)

  • Identify your budget—how much money do you need to live on?
  • Research the average salary range for the type of job you’ve been offered 
  • Research the organization’s salary range if the information is publicly available. Most public sector organizations like government, public educational institutions and crown corporations have little to no room to negotiate salary. An organization’s ability to negotiate salary will probably depend on the level of responsibility of the position—an entry-level position will have less room for negotiation.
  • Determine a reasonable range based on your needs and research
  • Meet with the employer and politely state your salary request
  • Work with the employer to find an outcome that works for both of you 
  • If you aren’t able to negotiate a higher salary, ask about the process and timeline for performance reviews and salary adjustments (there are often opportunities for performance-based salary increases within three to six months) 
  • Use the negotiation period to find out about other areas of negotiation, such as benefits, vacation time and flexible work schedules

Talk to your support network

Before you accept your job offer, share your news with family and friends. Discuss your goals and whether the job offer fits with your goals. (Remember, there are opportunities in every work experience to gain new skills, develop your résumé and meet new contacts.)

Make your decision

  • Once you’ve made your decision, contact the employer to let them know.
  • If you’ve accepted the position, thank the employer, confirm your start date and ask about setting up a meeting to review and sign a contract. Find out if you need to sign any administrative forms and whether you need to complete any training before the first day. Also confirm the dress code.
  • If you’ve applied for positions with other employers, let them know that you’ve accepted an offer, you're grateful for their consideration and you may contact them again in the future.
  • If you decide not to accept a job offer, follow up with the employer to let them know why, after careful deliberation, you haven’t accepted the offer. Be appreciative and leave the door open for future contact. By acting professionally, you’ll build your reputation as a person of integrity.