Harvard's Office of Career Services

GSAS: Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers

When students begin their job search, evaluating job offers or negotiating compensation packages are often the last things are their minds. But it is important to know that this process begins not when a job offer is received, but at the beginning of the search when you are performing research on different organizations. Some key questions to ask yourself early on:
  1. What are the criteria you will use to determine whether or not to accept a position? What are your top priorities, and what are you willing to compromise on?
  2. Do you have a sense of what the going pay rate is for the types of positions you are seeking? How accurate do you feel your sources are?
  3. How much money will you need simply to survive in the geographic area in which you plan to live? What is the minimum compensation you would accept for your dream job?
  4. Compensation aside, what are the rewards that a job in a given organization may give you? Access to a professional network, the chance to learn something new, an opportunity to add value to your resume or CV?
To learn more about this process, see our PDF guide on Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers. Also, check out our program schedule for workshops that cover this topic.

Most importantly, do not feel like you need to engage in this process alone. We recommend that students, upon receiving a job offer, immediately make an appointment with a counselor to discuss the details of the position and, if applicable, how to negotiate the compensation package. Such packages can be extremely complex, whether inside or outside of academe, and few graduate students have had the experience necessary to understand fully what it is they are being offered and to navigate a salary negotiation. We are here to help.