Negotiating Your Job Offer

by Courtney Baron, Head Editor, INALJ Georgia 

Negotiating Your Job Offer

courtney1So you just got offered your dream library job. Congratulations! Once you recover from the excitement, it’s time to review the offer and make sure your bases are covered. Don’t accept the offer right off the bat – ask when they need an answer. I learned these tips from Pat Hawthore, the Interim Chief Administrative Officer at Emory University Libraries, during a panel for library students and new professionals in Atlanta. The session focused on academic libraries, but these considerations apply to all job offers. Pat made it clear that hiring managers are here to help you navigate this process, so don’t hesitate to approach the hiring manager if you have any questions. It’s much better to be informed that to accept an offer that isn’t quite what you think it is. Here is what you should consider before you decide to enter negotiations or accept the offer as-is.

Salary. First and foremost, what does the position pay? Is it competitive for the area and position? It’s a good idea to review salary ranges for similar positions and review the cost of living in your targeted area, so that you know what to expect when you receive an offer and what will work for you and your family. Pat told a story about a recent PhD who asked for a salary that only professionals with ten years of experience would receive. Don’t look uninformed!

Benefits. Review the health, dental, and other insurance benefits provided by the library. Are these benefits required or optional? What percentages does the library cover and will your spouse or dependents also be covered by the policy?

Leave. Do you get paid leave and holidays? How does the library prefer you to take leave – a day here and there, or a week or two at a time?

Professional development. Will the library cover or contribute funds for conferences, courses, or other professional development opportunities? If it’s an academic library, you may be able to work on a degree for a reduced cost or even free. Since libraries all over the country are suffering from budget cuts, it’s becoming more common to offer a smaller salary in exchange for more professional development opportunities. If you are a new librarian or accepting an entry-level position, this can be huge. Don’t overlook these benefits!

Parking. If the library is at a university or in a busy urban area, parking could be costly or difficult to access. Find out about the parking situation ahead of time.

Relocation expenses. You’ve probably heard that if you want to find a library job, you should be flexible and willing to relocate. Find out if the library pays for relocation expenses. Some libraries aren’t able to offer this benefit out right, but may still be able to forward you a paycheck or cut a small amount from your paycheck your first year. In addition, some libraries will also cover a house-hunting trip.

What other factors are important to consider when negotiating your job offer?