#The3Llife: Negotiating Your First Job Offer

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for since you started going on job interviews–you got a job offer!

Congratulations! There’s nothing more exciting than landing your first job after graduation. But once the excitement wears off, you realize that you need to evaluate the offer and decide whether or not to accept. I know it can be tempting to just say yes immediately, but there are a few things you should consider before committing.

Evaluate your expenses

Take some time to sit down and make a list of all the expenses you have: rent, car payment, insurance, food, student loans, utilities, etc. Add up all these expenses and see how much you actually need to spend on a yearly basis. Chances are it will be higher than you thought. At the very least, you need to make sure that the offer will give you enough to cover all of these expenses with some left over. You’ll want a bit of a cushion for unexpected expenses (I’m looking at you cracked windshield).

Research salaries at comparable jobs

You want to see how your offer compares with the industry standard. Sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and USA Wage have helpful ranges that take into account your location, experience, firm size, and type of law. Play around with these sites and see where your offer falls. If you feel comfortable, you may also want to ask a friend who recently graduated what their starting salary was. More information is always better.

Look at benefits

Salary isn’t the only part of your offer you’ll want to evaluate. Does your employer pay for health insurance? How much will they contribute to a 401(k)? How many vacation days do you get? Think about the things that are important to you. You may be willing to accept a salary that is a bit lower in exchange for great health coverage or the opportunity to work from home and spend more time with your kids.

Be aware of the possibility for re-evaluation

This is a starting salary and you’ll want to have the opportunity to get a raise based on your performance. Be sure you know when your firm will be doing evaluations or performance reviews and when you’ll have the opportunity to get a raise. Setting up an opportunity for re-evaluation up front will set expectations and save your from a potentially awkward conversation down the road.

At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules when it coms to job offers. If the offer works for you, and you’re happy with it, then accept! It’s all about what you want in a job and whether the offer is meeting your needs and goals!

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