My quick query appointment theme this week has been around negotiating offers. Job hunting in my mind is a two way process. As much as employers are looking for the right candidate, the job seeker has to also find a job that is the right fit. Therefore negotiation is very much part and parcel of the whole process. However as the job seeker, it is worth bearing in mind the buoyancy of the job market and your desirability as a candidate will influence how much flexibility the employer will offer. My general advice is for you to be completely clear about what you want out of any negotiation before you enter any dialogue. This week I have seen a higher than usual number of students asking:
"I'd like to accept the job but can I defer my start date?"
Many organisations are flexible about a deferred start date but you should not assume this is possible. For some jobs with smaller employers you may be able to negotiate with the employer when you start if it is within a reasonable amount of time. For graduate schemes this may be less flexible when there many new employees starting at the same time and there may be a fixed schedule for induction and training. Our advice is to check with the employer if it will be possible to defer your start date. If you are planning on taking a gap year and have been applying for jobs in the hope of deferring for a year, you need to check if this is possible before you apply. Some employers may allow you to defer your offer for a year and start at the next intake.
"I have a job offer but I am waiting to hear back from other interviews"
This is a really common issue faced by students and our advice is for you to try and negotiate time to consider the offer. Do handle this diplomatically and reassure the employer you are still interested in their offer. Follow up with any applications in progress and try and get some clarity around their decision making timeline.
"I have accepted the role and have now changed my mind"
If you do find yourself in a position where you feel you would like to reject an offer that you have already accepted; step back and think through your reasoning! It may help to talk to a careers adviser for an objective chat (although we cant give you legal advice / discuss your contract).
"Is it cheeky to ask for more money?"
It isn't cheeky to ask for more money. However whether there is room to negotiate very much depends on the market and how badly the employer wants you, On large graduate schemes they have a lot of choice of candidates with very similar skill levels, so why should they pay you more? Some great advice from TargetJobs on negotiating salary.