Career Services offers tips for negotiating pay

Courtesy Photo /
Job Negotiations

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Job Negotiations

Andrew Justus

Degree or no degree, all students at Grand Valley State University will one day be offered a job somewhere.

While GVSU goes to great lengths to make sure students are ready to do work in their field, it is also important to get decent compensation in the form of salary and benefits.

Breeann Gorham, assistant director of Career Services, offered a few tips for students in regards to handling job offers.

“The first thing they should do is express gratitude and interest,” Gorham said. “But students should ask for at least 24 hours to review the offer.”

Allowing time to review an offer from a prospective employer is important because it allows time for the student to go over the offer and find items to negotiate, Gorham said. Students should also look up what the top and bottom 10 percentiles of earners in their field on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website,

“Someone with little experience should probably aim for the bottom 20 percent (of salaries),” she said.

Gorham said employers will typically start with a figure at the bottom of a $5,000 range that they are willing to pay. The range of possible compensation will vary based on the employer size and mission, she said. As a rule smaller businesses will tend to pay lower salaries than the largest firms, and nonprofits will also have smaller compensation packages overall.

There is more to compensation than just dollars and cents, benefits and what Gorham called “perks” are also an important bargaining item.

“If salary is low students should look at benefits and insurance as a bargaining item,” Gorham said, adding that students should not to forget about items such as vacation days and flexible hours as possible items to negotiate. “At the end of the day we try to tell students it’s a personal decision… and your first job is never your last, is it a step in the direction to their ultimate career goals,” Gorham said.