I received my very first “real” job offer on a Friday afternoon, from a payphone in a midtown Manhattan subway station, where I was in town for some job interviews (Yep, a payphone! It was the mid-90s, before cell phones were ubiquitous).
HR: “We’d like to offer you the position of Marketing Assistant.”
HR: “The salary will be… [insert insultingly low number, which was still more than I’d ever made as a teen or college student].”
HR: “We’d like you to start on Monday.”
Me: “Um… great?”
I’d just landed my dream job in book publishing at one of the world’s top publishing houses in New York City. It felt like a dream. The problem? I was a 22-year-old recent college grad living with my parents in Massachusetts. And I was about to start a job in Manhattan in just over two days. I had Saturday to pack up my belongings and figure out a temporary place to stay in NYC, where I did not know a single person. That meant Sunday was moving day. It was thrilling, but incredibly stressful. It didn’t have to be.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I made several mistakes on that 2-minute phone call. Here’s what I wish I had known ahead of time:
1. Never accept an offer on the spot.
I was so excited to get the offer that I was irrationally afraid of it slipping through my hands. As if taking a few days — or even hours — to think about it would cause them to change their minds and revoke the offer. In reality, they most certainly would have paid me the courtesy of a little time to think it over, had I simply asked.
I could have expressed my excitement and then asked for the weekend to review the offer. This may have been an issue, since they wanted me to start right away, but probably not (I’ll get to that in #2). Though it wasn’t an option for me back then, anyone receiving a phone offer now should also ask to receive all the details of the offer via email. There’s typically more to negotiate than just salary and start date.
Even if it’s your dream job, even if you’re just beginning in an entry level role and feel you have no leverage, take a moment. Your potential employer is going to ask for the conditions that are best for your potential employer. It’s your job to consider these and counter with what is reasonable and best for you. There’s almost always wiggle room. An offer is just the beginning of the conversation, and you’ll rarely find yourself in a more powerful position than you are immediately after the offer has been made.
2. You don’t have to start immediately.
There are very, very few cases in which an employer will need you to start your new role on the next business day, and that would likely only be in a case in which you’d explicitly said you could do so. If you say you are available “immediately,” they may actually want you to start immediately, so don’t say it. Even if “immediately” is true, pick a reasonable date that would work for you and that won’t require you to scramble.
Remember to have that date in the back of your mind during your interviews. You don’t want to tell them you’re available immediately, and then surprise them by asking for an extra month when they offer you the job.
In my case, accepting the position meant moving two states away and finding housing in NYC. So even though the HR person likely wanted to fill the spot and move on to the next item on her list, she almost certainly would have recognized the difficulty of my starting on the next business day had I addressed it!
3. Don’t accept the first salary offer, unless you’ve specifically named your price and they’ve met it.
I knew that book publishing wasn’t known at the time for being a high-paying industry, and I had a vague sense that entry-level publishing salaries were pretty low. But I didn’t know what “low” meant, because I had no basis for comparison. Now, thanks to the internet, social media discussions and sites like Fairygodboss, it’s much easier to discover what’s a reasonable starting salary in your industry.
As it turned out, not only was my entry-level salary almost unlivable on a New York City budget, but it had bigger implications for my earning power over the course of my career. I was promoted regularly, but my raises were always based on what I was making at the time. Because I’d started out by accepting such a low salary, it took years to climb out of the low-pay ditch I’d unwittingly dropped myself into.
Again, coming from a place of fear that I’d lose the offer, I immediately accepted what was almost certainly their bottom-rung offer. Of course they wouldn’t come right out of the gate with their highest number. It was my job to push back and find the most they were willing to pay for the role. But instead, I let them off the hook and then paid for it throughout my 20s.
Looking back, I don’t regret accepting the job. There were many times in those early years that I found myself having so much fun, I couldn’t believe it was actually work. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some, and I ended up staying for eight years. I also don’t beat myself up over my non-existent negotiation skills as a 22-year-old. It was adventure, and I learned all the good lessons — particularly the importance of self-advocacy.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.81% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|