Graduates / Negotiations

Graduates: Negotiating your first job offer

As of June this year, I will have finished university and joined the ever growing pool of graduates. It is a daunting thought but one I am relishing. However, like most people, I feel the first job offer that I receive I will accept, purely because it is a way into the Public Relations sector.

Thousands of students will graduate this summer

However, whatever sector you may be interested/skilled in, it is important not to just accept this offer but try to negotiate the job offer that leads to a win-win situation for you and your employer. I will show you how this is possible by using Stark and Flaherty’s (2012) four key points to successfully create a win-win outcome and how it can be applied to negotiating your first job offer

 1. Do not narrow your negotiation down to one issue. As important as your first salary may be, it is not the be all and end all during negotiations. Do not just focus on one issue, such as salary, but think about what else you may need during this job role. For example, a travel allowance to help with travelling to work each day, extra holiday or personal development that will enhance your career skills.

2. Realise your counterpart does not have the same needs and wants as you do. When you are negotiation your first job offer, it is also important to not just focus on yourself. The company/person you will be negotiating with need to know how they would benefit from this. If you do not consider the other party when negotiating you will NEVER achieve a win-win outcome.

3. Don’t assume the other parties needs. Another key aspect when negotiation your first job offer is don’t assume that what your are saying is what the company wants to hear. This will be the same for the person who is negotiating with you. They may not know what you want so it is important for both parties to ask questions to understand what you want, which will lead to more room to negotiate.

4. Believe point number two in your heart. I cannot reinforce enough about realising the company/person you are negotiating with will have different needs to yours. This can easily be forgotten as soon as you begin negotiations as you are just looking for the best outcome for yourself. STAY CALM and practice for when you are negotiating by having a set of questions that you may want to ask. In addition. be clear in explaining how your needs in negotiation can also benefit the company i.e. professional development training can see you work your way up the company in the future.

Hear it from the man himself 

Using these steps will help you achieve a win-win outcome for your first time job offer. It will also leave you and the company happy with the outcome and when it is time for your performance review 3, 6 or 9 months down the line, you may realise that you will be able to have a successful negotiation for improved terms once again.

Let me know your thoughts and any examples from graduates who have negotiated their first job offer.



6 thoughts on “Graduates: Negotiating your first job offer

  1. This is a great post. Having graduated last summer and got offered a really exciting role within the first month, It shows a new candidate how to approach the world of work with a sensible and thought out plan. These four points could and should ensure that each party benefits from the negotiations.

    I especially think this “need to know how they would benefit from this” is a very important point. In my experience, it is key to highlight what you can bring to the company in addition to the stated roles.

    • Thanks for your comment Lovable Ramblings. Do you feel that these steps would have helped you during your first job offer?

      I agree with you that it is important to highlight what else you can bring to a company in addition to stated roles as it shows you are being proactive during negotiations.

      Do you feel more negotiation training for job offers should be taught to students in their final year at university?

  2. Hey Dan,
    I think is not easy to negotiate your first job offer. I’d say is almost impossible. We, graduates, all have so many concerns about finding a job next year; finding a job immediately after graduation is already a very good outcome. So even if the salary will not be as good as expected, is still difficult to bargain as you feel you have nothing to offer to that employer and you are just grateful for the opportunity given.

    Well, this is definitely not the right approach. Is not just them that need to know what they would benefit from offering you a job. You are the first one to have to reflect and realise what are your strengths and what benefits you can bring to a company that another graduate won’t.

  3. Hi Oana, thanks for your comments. In my blog post I have highlighted that salary is not the deciding factor as negotiating a professional development plan could be more effective than negotiating an extra couple of thousand pounds.

    I agree that us as graduates need to reflect on our strengths that we can bring to the company because like you say it could be the difference between beating another graduate to the role.

    As a graduate do you feel if you start negotiating a job offer to much that you may lose out on the opportunity? And do you think more universities should teach negotiating job offers to final year students?

  4. Excellent blog! Focusing on the other party is always a good way of getting more of what you want – paradoxically the more you give the more you get.

    Good preparation will help with some of the issues you identify – it will help you work out what the other issues are as well as price, and help you work out what makes the other side tick – so will good listening skills once the negotiation starts.

    Negotiations are not normally won by the person who speaks the most – the more you say the more you give away, the less you listen the less you understand…

  5. Thanks for your comments Clive.

    After reading your comments, you are absolutely right about using listening skills effectively in negotiation. I can imagine most graduates will be nervous when they enter negotiations over their first job offer, which may lead to a rushed negotiation that could end up as a losing situation for them.

    Trying to remain calm will hopefully result in the graduate actively listening during negotiations.

    Do you feel more graduates should be taught how to negotiate their first job offer to prepare them for when they graduate?

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