Offer Evaluation and Negotiation

Congratulations – you got the job! You feel excited, relieved and proud of yourself. You've been offered a job that you really wanted. 

But before you accept, take a minute to re-read the offer letter. This time you notice that, although the salary is satisfactory, they don't include a relocation stipend and you don't fully understand the 401(k) or the benefits package. It's time to evaluate your offer!

Evaluate Your Offer

Make sure to evaluate your offer as a whole instead of just looking at base pay. You shouldn't just be looking at base pay since there are scenarios where benefits, bonuses, relocation stipends, and stock options can make up for low base pay. If you aren’t sure how to evaluate your offer or don’t understand all of the company benefits, make an appointment with a Career Coach.

Base Salary

Before you embark on your job search journey, it's important to research what appropriate compensation is for your experience level, skillset, and desired job title. You know you deserve to be appropriately compensated for your experience, skills, and expertise. This will prepare you to answer the question “what are your salary expectations?” during the interview process and evaluate any job offers you receive. 

If you’re not sure where to begin, there are a lot of great resources below. Take into account that this salary data is self-reported by real people with their own specific value factored into their salaries.

Salary Research Tools


The state in which you work matters a lot. There are two important factors in considering location

  1. State Taxes -Since each state has varying tax laws, your take-home pay will significantly differ from state to state. For example, a $90,000 offer can put as much as $6,760 more in your pocket in Texas where there is zero state income tax compared to California.
  2. Cost of Living - This covers basic expenses needed to live in the area, primarily housing and food. There are employers who have different total compensations based on location to make up for state taxes and cost of living. Be sure to communicate with your employer about this.

Cost-of-Living Calculators

Benefits Package

Be sure to ask your employer for a summary of benefits to get specific details. The most important factors to consider are healthcare insurance, retirement plans , and vacation policies.

401(k) Retirement Plan

Section 401(k) of the tax code allows you to save up to $18,000 PRE-TAX per year into a qualified plan. Not all companies offer a 401(k) and some companies who offer one will also match your contributions to your retirement plan to help you save faster.

Offer Timelines & Ethical Recruiting Practices

If you're in a situation where you are managing multiple offers or companies in the interviewing process, don't be afraid to ask for more time to make a decision. We strongly recommend you review our ethical student practices for students as well as our hiring guidelines for employers. These resources will help you manage the recruiting process professionally.

Advocate for Yourself

It's completely normal and expected for applicants to negotiate their salary after receiving a job offer in the US. It's not uncommon for employers to offer you the lowest salary possible. Companies may try to lowball you in order to save money and to give themselves room to negotiate. Remember, you're selling your skills in return for appropriate payment. Keep in mind:

  • A higher starting salary likely means setting yourself up for higher salaries at future jobs as well.
  • Employers will not rescind a job offer if you try and negotiate.  

Check out our Salary Negotiation Guide and our Offer Negotiation Email Templates to help you negotiate.

Want Help Evaluating and Negotiating?

Make an Appointment with a CNS Career Coach