The Art of the Deal: Negotiating your First Job

If you are a college student with basic credentials and are applying for a job or summer internships, you’re at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiation, unfortunately. Because all you care about is to get a job, any job, that pays a little bit more! Then there’s the students that fall into the other category, the ‘exceptional’ category. Joel from the blog, by stackOverflow CEO Joel Spolsky, warns about a tactic, a very common one, used by ‘third-grade recruiters and companies’ called the “exploding offer.” Here’s what happens. They call you for an interview, usually an on-campus one; maybe on their HQ for a second round. You will probably ace it since you are one of the ‘exceptional’ ones. They make you an offer and pressurize you to accept it by making you decide on the offer before finishing all of your other interviews. Career counselors know this, and almost every campus prohibits such tactics by recruiters. But the recruiters don’t care, it seems. Here’s Joel’s explanation: “They know that they’re a second-rate company: good enough, but nobody’s dream job, and they know that they can’t get first-rate students unless they use pressure tactics like exploding offers.”

But now let’s look at how to do the “negotiation” properly.

  1. First, you need to schedule all your interviews close to one-another.
  2. If you happen to get an “exploding offer” here’s how to push back: Say “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to give you an answer until January 14th. I hope that’s OK. ” Then you tone-up a little bit.
  3. In the rare case that they don’t accept, accept the offer, but go to the other interviews. Don’t sign anything. If you get a better offer, call them back and tell them that you changed your mind.
  4. Campus recruiters count on student’s high ethical standards. People feel bad when they make a promise to somebody and break it, students are no different. And that’s a commendable behavior, to make good of a promise. But unethical recruiters don’t deserve ethical decision making.

Joel Spolky’s blog was interesting, I think. Since it shows another aspect to your first job that people don’t think about. People are just happy to get a job right out of college and to be making some more $$ bucks $$ than they currently do. And that’s alright, I guess.



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