skip to primary navigation skip to content

Negotiating job offers

Inconvenient interview time? An offer you don't want to accept at this stage? Being pressed by an employer for an early decision? Waiting to hear about other jobs? Wanting to keep open the option of postgraduate study? Wanting to accept an offer but to defer your start date? Salary too low? These are common problems and negotiating about them with employers is not always easy, especially now that more employers outsource recruitment.

Remember, employers are looking for the right people just as much as you are looking for the right job. It is a mutual process and it is acceptable to negotiate to reach a win-win position. However, the flexibility of an employer will depend on the buoyancy of the job market in your chosen sector, your desirability as a candidate and the employer's internal procedures.

General tips for negotiating

Decide what you want out of any negotiations before you start. What would be the best outcome you could reasonably aspire to? What do you realistically expect? What is your absolute bottom line? What's just 'nice-to-have' and what is essential?

The employer will have made similar preparations. Try to establish their constraints before volunteering your own position.

Code of practice

The AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters), AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) and NUS (National Union of Students) fully endorse adherence to the following principles and strongly recommend their adoption by all those concerned with the process of graduate recruitment.

Although last updated in 2007, this national code has not been 'repealed' and currently is in the process of being updated.

Points to remember

  • Acknowledge offers in writing (even if they do not ask you to do so) and keep a copy.
  • Make it clear when you are considering an offer, but be careful not to commit yourself unless you wish to accept.
  • Always try to indicate when you will be in a position to make a decision.
  • Once you accept an unconditional offer, you should inform all other interested employers. Remember that the acceptance in writing of an unconditional offer forms a contract.

Frequently asked questions about negotiating