You have officially nailed the interview(s) and landed the job! Congratulations! Next comes reviewing your formal job offer. For most, this is an exciting time, and your first instinct may be to accept the first offer you get outright. But it is best to fully understand what the offer entails before you attempt to negotiate higher or accept as-is. Let’s break it down.

A Job Offer Letter often includes job title, position type (exempt, non-exempt, full-time, part-time, project based, etc.), reporting/team structure, an anticipated starting date, salary, benefits, and an acknowledgement to sign. It may also include additional agreements to sign including noncompetes, contingencies (passing a background, drug, or credit check), confidentiality agreements, and other compensation information.

The job title is fairly self-explanatory. But it’s important to note the difference between some types of employment. “Exempt” means that the position is not subject to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor and Standard Act (FLSA). In other words, they would not receive overtime pay or are exempt from other FLSA requirements. These are often salaried positions. “Nonexempt” positions are protected by FLSA regulations. This means non-exempt employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage for hours worked and have access to overtime pay beyond 40 hours worked per week. These are often hourly positions. There are additional factors in these types of employment that are worth spending some time researching.

Your offer may come in right at the salary that was noted during your interview or as noted on the original application. Though it may also be different because it was “commensurate with experience.” This means that the salary offered might be impacted by the amount of experience you come in with; for example, the more experience you have the higher the pay. Regardless, it’s good to review any notes or information that was provided to you about the role as you were going through the application and interview process. If the pay is less than suggested, it’s a good idea to ask why.

In addition to the salary offered, your benefits (401k, healthcare coverage, dental, vacation, etc.) are not to be swept under the rug. These benefits often have a significant cost to the business you are considering joining. Often, these expenses can be approximately 30% of the salary suggested on top of your salary as a total employee compensation package. It’s not explicitly stated in that way, but it’s important to understand that your paycheck is only one piece of the total offer.

So, what’s normal for benefits? It depends. Companies all do this differently. Some may put out more vacation time or flexible time off for employees, and some may offer higher 401K matching programs. Depending upon what your priorities are, either of these can be viewed as better or worse for your own needs.

Moving on to the team structure. In case no one mentioned it to you during your interview process, this may be the first time you’re learning who you would report to and potentially who would be on your team. Do some digging! Search LinkedIn for the company you’re applying to and see if you can find any employees listed as working for that company with a title like yours or within the same area of the business. Peeking at their profiles may give you a better idea of your teammates and the culture of the workplace. You can also do this for your boss! It’s not snooping, it’s investigating for your future.

Finally, look a bit deeper into the additional documents that are requested. Is the employer looking for you to sign a noncompete? A noncompete is a legal document that tells you where you can and cannot work in the future for a given period. Often noncompetes are in place to ensure you don’t share industry or company secrets to a competitor that may put that company in jeopardy or lose any market share. They may only be enforced in a specific geographic location, or they may only be for a particular industry or client of theirs. Regardless, it’s good to check it out. Then seek advising on it from trusted mentors or even an attorney.

Now that you’ve reviewed everything from your offer, it’s time to sign and accept the offer or go back to the hiring manager with your counteroffer. It’s important to note that not all situations would be accepting of a counteroffer. Especially if you’re working with a recruiter, agency, or career launching platform like Avenica. Often the roles they’re placing have salaries and packages that are locked in with little wiggle room. They will also share this with you up front. If you’re going it alone, that may be another story and a topic for another blog post.

Good luck on your job search; we’re cheering for you!

If you’re looking for information on how to kickstart your career, contact Avenica or browse jobs today! We help our entry-level job seekers find positions that fit their expertise and career goals.

Arch Advisory Group has joined forces with Avenica. You can learn about Arch Advisory Group and its services at