College Central®

Ask around. The Network works.®

Personal Finance
Top Tips For Negotiating Your Way Into A Sweet Job Offer

Malisa Loberg -- Knowing how to ask for a little more from your new company than the standard offer they've made you can pay off. If you handle it right, it shows you think you're worth that little extra bit more and that you're worth their investment.

When students are graduating from college, the world outside the safety of co-ed dorms, student apartments, and the student union cafeteria can be daunting, and sometimes downright intimidating. Many college graduates leave school with a job offer from a company that has recruited them because of their talents, grades and performance in school. They don't think about how the company is lucky to have them; they only see the fact that they are lucky to have a job.

However, there are some aspects to their job offers that are up for negotiation, areas that might make their transition to the working world easier, might make their new job and new city even more attractive. Here's a short list of things that can be negotiable when talking official job offers with a recruiter.


Most recruiters, when giving an official job offer to a graduating student, have a salary range that they can offer within. They often will try to offer the salary in the lower part of that range to save on budget, but they have the authority to bump up the offer if persuaded. Ask fellow graduates about their job offers and be sure yours is in the same ballpark. Research starting salaries for similar jobs online, and then explain all this to your recruiter if you aren't in a similar range as your peers. Be sure to be well researched before you approach your recruiter with this request. Don't be greedy, but be persuasive in the fact that you may have a leg up in experience or project-based work or some other area that shows you deserve a higher starting salary.

Vacation days:

Many hiring managers also have leeway in vacation days they can award. Some companies have unofficial days off they can allow you to have, and others can officially give you more days per year if you ask. Be careful not to look like a college kid who just wants to live on Spring Break forever, but don't be afraid to ask if you can have comparable days off like the next higher rank in the company. Especially if you have a competing offer from another company and you haven't decided which to accept yet; letting your recruiter or hiring manager know that a few more days off per year could swing your vote their way could help you earn a few extra days out of the cubicle and on the beach every year.

Work from home possibilities:

Every company is looking for ways to save money, and employees who telecommute are one of the easiest ways they can do this. While you are in school, develop ways that you can later show that you can be trusted to telecommute early in your career. Complete courses online, document remote project work with others and find any other way you can think of to show you are reliable if you aren't in the office where they can keep an eye on you from the beginning. Sure, you still have the full load of work to do, but sometimes it's nice to be able to drink your own coffee in your pajamas while you complete your tasks and check your work email. New employees are less likely to be offered this opportunity because they don't ask, and they don't have a way to show they can be trusted until they've been around a while. If you build this into your college resume while you're completing your course requirements, it's more likely to be something your new manager can try out with you early on.

Hiring bonus:

When the economy crashed after 9/11, many companies did away with hiring bonuses. However, as the years have crept on, the bonuses have silently crept back as well, and they're out there if you ask. Especially if you have more than one job offer, a bonus can be a deal maker or deal breaker. You're more likely to be awarded one if you've already gotten security clearance on a prior internship, or been published, or led a successful project as a contract project for a local company. Be sure to build this sort of experience into your college curriculum, if possible, and you'll be best positioned to ask for that bonus come hiring time.

Start date:

Many companies ask you to start work as soon after your graduation date as possible, but there is no set rule for this timetable. As long as you are reasonable, there's no reason why you can't push your start date off a week or two and enjoy some time for a vacation to reward yourself on an education well-done or just some down time on the couch to mind-meld with Bruno Mars and do nothing at all. Be respectful, but be firm and let your hiring company know that you'd like a start date of a week or two after your graduation, instead of right away. Unless they have a hard and fast deadline coming up that they need you to contribute to right away, most companies don't expect their college graduates to contribute in a critical way at the start and you can find some wiggle room on that start date.

Amenities assistance:

Recruiters and human resource departments almost always have budget for assistance in these areas. Moving to another city can be overwhelming and assistance from your company in helping you hire a reputable realtor to help you rent Chicago apartments or find the best moving company to ship your things from Los Angeles to Baltimore can be invaluable. Not only can they often pick up the tab, but they have referrals for these companies that you can rely on. Help in renting a house, moving companies, car rentals, even paying for your airfare to fly for the move are all areas that your new company's HR department may be able to assist you with.

Further education:

Consider negotiating terms for more education down the career road. Although you're just graduating and laugh out loud at the idea of ever doing homework again or staying up late to cram for an exam or finish a big team project, eventually you'll want to develop your career past this first job. An MBA or a graduate degree, or a project management certification can take you to new places and asking your company to commit to paying for your education sometime in the future not only shows them you want to grow, but that you're an investment worth making. This isn't a chip you have to cash in anytime in the near future -- most companies want you to have three to five years work experience in that first job before you consider what's next with them. But should there come a time when you're thinking about how to find that next level, having tuition paid for or promised time off to go back to school for that advanced degree can be priceless.

Whether you want help finding Buena Park apartments for rent or you want a little extra cash to drive across the country and see the sights before you make the big leap into your first real job after college, asking for a little more from your new company than the standard offer they've made you can pay off. If you handle it right, it shows you think you're worth that little extra bit more and that you're worth their investment. Good luck and don't be afraid to ask for what you think you're worth!

A Chicago native, Malisa keeps her finger on the pulse of the city. She is adept at matching clients with neighborhoods and apartments that exceed their expectations. Malisa writes about Chicago apartments and relocation issues. Her specialty is the area of Logan Square apartments.

© 2014 Malisa Loberg

Return to top

The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.