April 15, 2021Print | PDF
In his recent article “Job Offer Negotiations: Helping Students Negotiate Their Job Offers,” Steve Risavy explains how students can communicate with prospective employers to maximize the value of a job offer while developing a positive relationship with the organization. He began the article with a quote from a grateful student.
“I definitely wouldn’t have felt confident enough to negotiate an offer for an entry-level position if you didn’t make it seem so accessible,” wrote one of Risavy’s former students at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics.
Such positive feedback is not unique. In fact, Risavy, an assistant professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management, included an entire appendix in the article of appreciative comments from Laurier students who used his advice to successfully negotiate their job offers.
Risavy began focusing on the importance of negotiation after repeatedly hearing from his students that they were too anxious to advocate for higher salaries for fear of the job offer being rescinded or because they simply didn’t know what to say.
“That seemed to be the biggest barrier: ‘How do I even start this conversation?’” says Risavy, noting that some students didn’t even realize it was possible to negotiate. “I started working with students on how we could apply negotiation theory to their own job offer negotiations.”
Risavy developed a flowchart with specific, situational instructions and sample statements students can use with prospective employers, all grounded in academic research and his years of experience as a human resources professional. He published his teaching practice in Management Teaching Review so students and fellow educators can use it as a practical guide.
“Of all the students that I have helped over the years with the negotiation process I document in this paper, in no situation has a job offer ever been rescinded,” says Risavy. “In many situations, employers actually increased their initial offer.”
Here are three key takeaways from Risavy’s research:
“Students who do not negotiate their job offers often leave value on the table, which will compound over time and perhaps throughout an entire career. Whatever figure you accept as your starting salary, any subsequent inflation or salary adjustments are likely to be anchored to that initial job offer. And even when you move on to a new employer, they might ask how much you are currently making, so you might still be anchored to that initial offer.”
“Students are often unsure how to answer questions about their salary expectations on application forms and during interviews. To most effectively respond and feel confident in their salary request, they should gather objective, publicly available salary survey data and determine a salary range for similar positions in their geographic region.”
“While many students are inclined to negotiate their job offers over email, having a conversation in person, over the phone, or on Zoom gives you a lot more information. By listening to the other person’s tone of voice or observing their body language, you can determine if they are willing to have this conversation or if they are showing some apprehension. That’s good information to have so you can decide to change course if needed. You may also feel less anxious than if you’re waiting for a reply in an asynchronous email exchange.”