It’s irrational to think an employer will tell you to get lost if you try to negotiate their initial offer.

While you certainly can lose your offer if you take a month to reply, or if you come back with a bizarre demand for your own personal masseuse and access to the CEO’s parking spot, employers expect you to review and negotiate their proposed compensation package. In addition, they may even lose some respect for you if you are too eager.

Don’t believe me? Pretend for a minute that you are a hiring manager…

  • You’ve received hundreds of resumes for an open position in your organization.
  • You’ve interviewed many strong candidates (along with a lot of people who seemed rude, flaky, or unqualified).
  • You’ve done tedious background checks, and you’ve had internal conversations to get different opinions from your staff.

In other words, you’ve put in a lot of work to try to find the right person. However, you think it’s just about to pay off… if your top candidate accepts your offer.

You present your offer to this candidate, optimistic yet anxious about his reply. Without any delay, questions, or counter-offer, he immediately accepts and asks when you would like him to begin work.

If you were the hiring manager in this case, wouldn’t you be a little disappointed by the candidate’s eagerness? You made him jump through all sorts of hoops during the interview process, and when he finally gets some leverage and has a chance to clarify your proposed compensation and make some reasonable requests of his own, he does absolutely nothing but ask you when he can start?! (Full disclosure: That is exactly what I did when I received my first full-time job offer as a 21 year-old student. Lesson learned.)

Wouldn’t such eagerness make you think the candidate must not have any other options if he was able to immediately accept your offer? Wouldn’t you wonder if you could have gotten the person for even less money? Wouldn’t you wonder if this person was really as special as you thought he was before you made your offer?

Attention, job-seekers… If you accept an offer immediately, you look desperate, even if you are simply excited about the opportunity. You truly would not be able to accept an offer right away if you had lots of prospects and multiple offers. You would need some time to compare all your options.

Even if you are feeling more desperate than a 40 year-old virgin, never accept a job offer on the spot. At the absolute minimum, ask for the offer in writing, with at least a few days to review the details. Then, read all the fine print associated with the proposed compensation package, and make sure you are comfortable and clear with what you are stepping into.

If not, respond with your questions and/or with a counter-offer that includes your best evidence for why you deserve what you are asking for. Even if the hiring manager sticks to his initial offer (which happens only if you ask for too much or if the employer views you as an easily replaceable “commodity”), you will have earned more respect by being patient and by standing up for yourself.


Pete Leibman is the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You,” and his career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN. Pete is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for college students and at conferences for people who work with college students. Click here to learn how your group can participate in Pete’s nationwide speaking tour.