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[video] How to negotiate offers: tips for discussing salary and benefits Part 1

Businessmen Shaking Hands
Businessmen Shaking Hands
Anna Peters AvatarAnna Peters
July 7, 2017


Negotiating offers by discussing salary and benefits can be intimidating for an entry level job seeker. If you haven’t done your research, you won’t know what to ask for. When you are given a job offer, that is the moment when you have the most leverage to negotiate, so make sure you are prepared so you don’t miss the opportunity.

College Recruiter spoke with Marky Stein, who consults Fortune 500 companies, presents at colleges and universities about career development, and is a bestselling author of career planning books. This is Part 1 of 2 of our conversation with Marky to hear her advice for entry level job seekers about negotiating salary and benefits. Here she provides tips for what to expect, how to prepare for negotiating and ideas for what to negotiate. Part 2 will continue the conversation and will address the gender pay gap and when to ask for a pay raise.

Stein is part of College Recruiter’s  Panel of Experts, which is a group of experts around the country who regularly provide top notch advice for both talent acquisition professionals and entry level job seekers.
Watch the video of our conversation with Marky Stein about how to negotiate salary and benefits, and read major takeaways in the blog below.

Tips for evaluating the whole salary/benefit package when offered a job

First, do your research. “Very often you won’t know the salary range, so do a bit of research for a salary of your experience and in your geographic area,” says Marky. Getting objective facts about these numbers will help you evaluate whether the offer is within “market rate”.

You can research in places like, where you can discover the national average wage, find out your low and high salaries for your state, and drill down to the city and zip code. You can also look at Glassdoor’s salary calculator.

At that point, if you notice that the salary is lower than the market rate, you may say something like, “Thank you! I’m very flattered and I would love to work here.” Show your enthusiasm and then add something like “my research shows that a typical salary for this position has a somewhat higher rate. What can you do to come closer to the market rate?”

As far as benefits go, you should reasonably expect medical, dental, vision and some kind of retirement or savings package.

Marky says that many of these options “have worked for students and grads whom I’ve coached. Practically anything can be negotiated. Be aware that what we call your whole “compensation package” includes both your pay plus benefits and perks. A good benefits and perks package can be valued at $20,000 a year or more, so remember that they are part of your overall compensation, especially if your salary offer is less than you might desire.”

Negotiate only after you’ve been offered the job. Whatever you do, don’t try to negotiate for salary on the phone or until you’ve gotten a job offer or are in the advanced last stages of an interviewing process. On the phone, or in the first phases of the interview it is much better to say, “I would consider that”, “I’m flexible”, “It’s negotiable”, or “I’m open to discussion”.

Also read The Entry-Level Job Seeker’s Guide to Salary Negotiation

Try to never be the first one to bring up the topic of salary. Even then, do not come up with an exact number. Instead, say “something closer to the low 70Ks, “something closer to market rate” or “something close to a typical range of pay in this geographic area”. You can also turn around the conversation when asked what you expect for a salary. I had one client, a psychology major, who was interviewing for a job as a corporate human resources recruiter. The interviewer, prepared to offer her the job, asked what she would expect in terms of compensation, and she said: “Well, I’m not sure until I learn a bit more about the duties of the position and the benefits you’re offering, but what would you say is a fair salary range for a person of my background?”  The interviewer said, “$30 to $60 thousand a year” and she quickly smiled, shook his hand and said, “60 would be fine!” She got the job!

Red flags that an employer isn't offering a competitive packageWatch for these red flags that an employer is not offering a competitive benefit package

  1. Offer is under market salary: “If it’s under market salary, and you know the company wants you, you can open up a salary negotiation by saying, ‘My research shows me that your offer is somewhat under market salary. What can we do to bridge that gap?’ And they might offer you something higher, or you could negotiate for a number of benefits or perks.” For example, telecommuting or a unique workweek might be what you ask for. “Sometimes you can get creative and ask for a four-day work week of ten-hour days, and three days off. You might even ask for a 32-hour work week.”
  2. Employer doesn’t pay most of the premium: Be careful with benefits because sometimes “an employer will say they offer them, but in fact they only offer a group plan, for which you have to play the full premium. You want your employer to pay most or all of those benefits.” If not, it may be wiser, if you are under 26 years old, to stay on your parent’s plan.
  3. Vesting period is too long: Be careful also that the vesting period for your 401K is not too long. Vesting means the length of time it takes for you to be eligible to collect the employer’s contribution to your 401K. You may not be at the company long enough to receive your employer’s matching dollars. A period of more than 2 years of vesting may not even be valuable to you since many jobs now are more shorter term one or two year “gigs” per Erica Golden, Director of Training and Innovation and co-founder of the Institute of Career Coaching and Development, headquartered in Silicon Valley, CA.

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Marky recalls another client who was offered a Physical Therapy Aide job while he was still an undergraduate, planning to eventually get a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. “His hourly pay, was not that much ($17/hr), but he negotiated for a flexible schedule of only 25 hours per week with full benefits. If you’re asking for more than is offered, it’s good to have a reason for it. He told them, ‘I have a recent certificate as a Physical Therapy Aide and some experience as a volunteer in a hospital, so I think I will quickly hit the ground running and learn the job quickly. I’m also willing to work on weekends.’”

Some high profile tech companies offer some amazing perks, but what are realistic expectations for perks?

Many high-profile Silicon Valley companies offer amazing perks—like shuttling you to work, laundry Some companies offer amazing perks like a shuttle to workservice, dry cleaning, travel agencies, showers and locker rooms, quiet nap rooms, company gyms, banking onsite, free meals. But be aware that offering these come with a pretty steep price. Those companies are expecting you to work a 70 or 100-hour week. Go for something more reasonable. Many companies now are willing to offer flexible schedules, remote telecommuting and even payment of student loans. Perhaps you can negotiate a sign-on bonus of $1,000 – 10,000, or a salary review within a few months. Most companies offer much more modest perks like company parties and recognition for good work. Expecting your employer to feed and clothe you is not realistic.

Marky provides a list of benefits and perks that you can try negotiating:

  • Remote work or telecommuting from home or coffee shop with Internet
  • Flexible work schedule such as 4-10 hour days “on” and 3 days “off” or early or late start/end of the workday
  • A shorter week, for example, “I’d be happy to work for $49,000 a year if I could work a 32-hour week!”
  • Ability for your health and other benefits to start immediately rather than in 90 days
  • A salary review in 3-6 months
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Health coverage for spouse, domestic partner or dependents
  • Child care
  • Elder care
  • Stock in the company
  • A sign-on bonus
  • Reimbursement for travel and parking
  • Membership to a gym
  • Extended vacation, sick time, mental health days. sick days or bereavement
  • Extended maternity or paternity leave
  • Use of a company car


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