How to Negotiate a Job Offer – Workshop Overview

Life is full of negotiations and compromises. However, when we think about negotiating a job offer, the stereotypes of greedy, bossy and uncommitted people quickly surface. Many people fear that negotiating a job offer will lead to tension in the workplace, or even cause them to lose an offer*. Consequently, many people shy away from negotiating and from asking for a better work experience for themselves. To help us navigate the complexities of negotiating a job offer, McGill’s Career Planning Services (CaPS) hosted a workshop called “Negotiating Your Academic Job Offer” on March 30th, presented by Dr. Niem Huynh, as part of the Academic Career Week. Here, I summarize the main strategies for negotiating a job offer.

Dr. Huynh is a serial negotiator. She operates with the mindset that anything – yes, anything – is negotiable as long as it stems from a lightness of conversation and a win-win attitude. Serial negotiators research into their specific situations to strengthen their argument, are clear in communicating what they want and gives reasons for why their request will profit the job. Of course, serial negotiators all began as amateur negotiators, first practicing with small requests, meanwhile building the required skills and confidence to be a true master.

So what exactly can one negotiate other than salary range? Other negotiable aspects include:

Job title                                      Accommodation if settling into a new place             

Travel and moving expenses               Reduced required time for advancement              

Parking                         Work supplies and start-up package                   Schedule              

Flex days and holidays                                 Possibility of working remotely              

The acronym F.E.A.R. outlines the step-by-step strategy for negotiation, as presented by Dr. Huynh.

Find information and examples about the potential work opportunity for anything that can be used to leverage your request. Understand where the employer is coming from. (e.g. average salary or benefits for a similar position in other workplaces, turnover rate)

Evaluate your situation by reviewing the information gathered. This analysis builds the basis for your argument and the negotiating environment.

Ask for a limit of the top five things that you want. Phrase your requests in terms of how these changes can help to improve their work quality, efficiency, and commitment. Be careful not to say too much! State your request and your reason, then wait for a response. Silence can be a useful tool.

Respect the process. Remember to be grateful and gracefully decline if the offer is not for you. If it is something that you cannot compromise on, you can ask when you can revisit the topic again.

Lastly, never negotiate over email. Schedule a call or a meeting to ask ‘clarification questions’ and gather information to evaluate your argument.


Negotiating a job offer can demonstrate to a potential employer that you are capable, confident, and comfortable with the task at hand. An employer who respects you as their top candidate will not think differently of you because of negotiation. It is also a chance to see how interested the organization is to have you on their team. 

When you feel discouraged, remember that in the game of negotiation, rejection is never a refusal of a person but a refusal of an offer. You never know what you’ll get unless you ask!



Click here for additional resources on negotiation.

*During the workshop, a CaPS advisor clarified that they have not heard of any cases where an offer was withdrawn after a candidate negotiated. However, offers have were withdrawn in cases where the negotiation request suggests that the candidate’s interests are in direct conflict with primary objectives and responsibilities of the work position (e.g. professor is not interested in teaching and wants to work remotely) and thus deemed unfit for the job.



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