Find Employment/Offer Strategies

The OfferEdit

If the interview has gone well, and if both parties are happy with the interview process, you might receive an offer. Many offers are verbal, over the phone, but recently some companies have been sending out offers (at least informal offers) over email as well. Inevitably, the question will come up about compensation, and the hiring manager is likely to ask "how much money do you want?" This is a loaded question, so it is worthwhile to prepare your response.


It is important, before you even go to an interview, and certainly before you entertain an offer, that you know what you are worth, and what the job pays. There are many resources on the internet, such as, where you can find out what other people in your area are getting paid for similar work. If you are a college graduate, ask your advisors what kinds of salary people with your qualifications are worth. If you are not a graduate, find out what other qualifications you have, and what their combined worth is. If you have your highschool diploma, and a number of certifications, and if you have attended training programs, do some research and find out what your net worth is.

Do not Make the First OfferEdit

No matter what happens, you should never say a dollar amount first. If you ask for a number that is too high, the hiring manager may think that you are unrealistic, or that you are accustomed to having too high paying a job. If you ask for too little, the manager might accept your offer, even if they were willing to pay you more.

Here is a story: A hiring manager is looking to hire an office assistant for approximately 20$ an hour, plus some benefits. The manager interviews 2 candidates, both of which are equally qualified. He asks what each one wants to make. The first candidate says "I've done some research, I know this job is worth approximately 20$/hour, but I'm not desperate, and I'm willing to negotiate". The second candidate says "I want to make at least 15$ an hour." So who gets the job? The hiring manager will likely hire the second candidate, because the second candidate will be happy with only 15$ an hour, and the hiring manager can save 25% of his money for other needs!

Now, the example above may make it look like you can get your foot in the door if you under-bid the competition, but keep in mind: If you make yourself look cheap, people will think you are cheap. People may think that they can get away with giving you too little money, or they may think that you simply have not done your research (which makes you look bad), or they may even think that you are only worth the lower amount! If competition for a job is tough, do not undersell yourself, because you lose your edge.

Do not Forget BenefitsEdit

Benefits, if they are being offered, are an important part of your employment package. Which is better: $35,000 a year with full medical and dental, or $40,000 per year with no benefits at all? If you are already covered, you might spring for the higher number, but many people should definitely think hard about this decision, because it could affect the rest of your life. If you have college loan debt, see if the company offers tuition reimbursement. For young women, find out what the maternity package is like. Everybody should inquire about the retirement options, the medical benefits, life insurance options, et cetera. Also, if the company is unionized, find out what the union dues cost, and find out what the union benefits are. It is your job, and if you have gotten this far in the employment process, you can probably find another job if this one does not meet your needs.

Evaluating a Job OfferEdit

Once you receive a job offer, you are faced with a difficult decision and must evaluate the offer carefully. Fortunately, most organizations will not expect you to accept or reject an offer immediately.

Issues to ConsiderEdit

There are many issues to consider when assessing a job offer. Will the organization be a good place to work? Will the job be interesting? Are there opportunities for advancement? Is the salary fair? Does the employer offer good benefits? If you have not already figured out exactly what you want, the following discussion may help you to develop a set of criteria for judging job offers, whether you are starting a career, reentering the labor force after a long absence, or planning a career change.

The organizationEdit

Background information on an organization can help you to decide whether it is a good place for you to work. Factors to consider include the organization’s business or activity, financial condition, age, size, and location.

You generally can get background information on an organization, particularly a large organization, on its Internet site or by telephoning its public relations office. A public company’s annual report to the stockholders tells about its corporate philosophy, history, products or services, goals, and financial status. Most government agencies can furnish reports that describe their programs and missions. Press releases, company newsletters or magazines, and recruitment brochures also can be useful. Ask the organization for any other items that might interest a prospective employee. If possible, speak to current or former employees of the organization.

Background information on the organization may be available at your public or school library. If you cannot get an annual report, check the library for reference directories that may provide basic facts about the company, such as earnings, products and services, and number of employees. Some directories widely available in libraries either in print or as online databases include:

  • Dun & Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Directory
  • Standard and Poor’s Register of Corporations
  • Mergent’s Industrial Review (formerly Moody’s Industrial Manual)
  • Thomas Register of American Manufacturers
  • Ward’s Business Directory

Stories about an organization in magazines and newspapers can tell a great deal about its successes, failures, and plans for the future. You can identify articles on a company by looking under its name in periodical or computerized indexes in libraries. However, it probably will not be useful to look back more than 2 or 3 years.

The library also may have government publications that present projections of growth for the industry in which the organization is classified. Long-term projections of employment and output for detailed industries, covering the entire U.S. economy, are developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and revised every 2 years. See the November 2005 Monthly Labor Review for the most recent projections, covering the 2004-14 period, on the Internet at: Trade magazines also may include articles on the trends for specific industries.

Career centers at colleges and universities often have information on employers that is not available in libraries. Ask a career center representative how to find out about a particular organization.

Does the organization’s business or activity match your own interests and beliefs?
It is easier to apply yourself to the work if you are enthusiastic about what the organization does.
Career centers at colleges and universities often have information on employers that is not available in libraries. Ask a career center representative how to find out about a particular organization.
It is easier to apply yourself to the work if you are enthusiastic about what the organization does.

Size of the CompanyEdit

How will the size of the organization affect you?
Large firms generally offer a greater variety of training programs and career paths, more managerial levels for advancement, and better employee benefits than do small firms. Large employers also may have more advanced technologies. However, many jobs in large firms tend to be highly specialized.
Jobs in small firms may offer broader authority and responsibility, a closer working relationship with top management, and a chance to clearly see your contribution to the success of the organization.
Should you work for a relatively new organization or one that is well established?
New businesses have a high failure rate, but for many people, the excitement of helping to create a company and the potential for sharing in its success more than offset the risk of job loss. However, it may be just as exciting and rewarding to work for a young firm that already has a foothold on success.

Type of CompanyEdit

Does it make a difference if the company is private or public?
An individual or a family may control a privately owned company and key jobs may be reserved for relatives and friends. A board of directors responsible to the stockholders controls a publicly owned company and key jobs usually are open to anyone.
Is the organization in an industry with favorable long-term prospects?
The most successful firms tend to be in industries that are growing rapidly.

Nature of the jobEdit

Even if everything else about the job is attractive, you will be unhappy if you dislike the day-to-day work. Determining in advance whether you will like the work may be difficult. However, the more you find out about the job before accepting or rejecting the offer, the more likely you are to make the right choice. Actually working in the industry and, if possible, for the company would provide considerable insight. You can gain work experience through part-time, temporary, or summer jobs, or through internship or work-study programs while in school, all of which can lead to permanent job offers.

Where is the job located?
If the job is in another section of the country, you need to consider the cost of living, the availability of housing and transportation, and the quality of educational and recreational facilities in that section of the country. Even if the job location is in your area, you should consider the time and expense of commuting.
Does the work match your interests and make good use of your skills?
The duties and responsibilities of the job should be explained in enough detail to answer this question.
How important is the job in this company?
An explanation of where you fit in the organization and how you are supposed to contribute to its overall objectives should give you an idea of the job’s importance.
Are you comfortable with the hours?
Most jobs involve regular hours—for example, 40 hours a week, during the day, Monday through Friday. Other jobs require night, weekend, or holiday work. In addition, some jobs routinely require overtime to meet deadlines or sales or production goals, or to better serve customers. Consider the effect that the work hours will have on your personal life.
How long do most people who enter this job stay with the company?
High turnover can mean dissatisfaction with the nature of the work or something else about the job.

Opportunities offered by employersEdit

A good job offers you opportunities to learn new skills, increase your earnings, and rise to positions of greater authority, responsibility, and prestige. A lack of opportunities can dampen interest in the work and result in frustration and boredom.

The company should have a training plan for you. What valuable new skills does the company plan to teach you?

The employer should give you some idea of promotion possibilities within the organization. What is the next step on the career ladder? If you have to wait for a job to become vacant before you can be promoted, how long does this usually take? When opportunities for advancement do arise, will you compete with applicants from outside the company? Can you apply for jobs for which you qualify elsewhere within the organization, or is mobility within the firm limited?

Salaries and benefitsEdit

Wait for the employer to introduce these subjects. Some companies will not talk about pay until they have decided to hire you. In order to know if their offer is reasonable, you need a rough estimate of what the job should pay. You may have to go to several sources for this information. Try to find family, friends, or acquaintances who recently were hired in similar jobs. Ask your teachers and the staff in placement offices about starting pay for graduates with your qualifications. Help-wanted ads in newspapers sometimes give salary ranges for similar positions. Check the library or your school’s career center for salary surveys such as those conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers or various professional associations.

If you are considering the salary and benefits for a job in another geographic area, make allowances for differences in the cost of living, which may be significantly higher in a large metropolitan area than in a smaller city, town, or rural area.

You also should learn the organization’s policy regarding overtime. Depending on the job, you may or may not be exempt from laws requiring the employer to compensate you for overtime. Find out how many hours you will be expected to work each week and whether you receive overtime pay or compensatory time off for working more than the specified number of hours in a week.

Also take into account that the starting salary is just that: the start. Your salary should be reviewed on a regular basis; many organizations do it every year. How much can you expect to earn after 1, 2, or 3 or more years? An employer cannot be specific about the amount of pay if it includes commissions and bonuses.

Benefits also can add a lot to your base pay, but they vary widely. Find out exactly what the benefit package includes and how much of the cost you must bear.


National, State, and metropolitan area data from the Bureau’s National Compensation Survey are available from:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Compensation Levels and Trends, 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE., Room 4175, Washington, DC 20212-0001. Telephone: (202) 691-6199. Internet:

Data on earnings by detailed occupation from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey are available from:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE., Room 2135, Washington, DC 20212-0001. Telephone: (202) 691-6569. Internet: