What criteria should people use to evaluate whether a job offer is good for them?
The attractiveness of a job offer is a very personal thing based on the individuals’ needs at the time. It is key that every job seeker know their needs well before going through the interview process and receiving the offer. Break the offer down before reacting to it. List the salary; calculate the bonus if there is one; secure the details of the health coverage; re-read the job description to remind yourself about the duties; and consider the “soft” elements like length of commute, new skills you will learn, and the quality of the people you will work with.
Should people negotiate with potential employers for better compensation, or do they run the risk of losing the offer?
In my 30 years hiring and negotiating my own offers, I have never had an offer repealed due to a negotiation. However, if a candidate is rude, overly demanding or disrespectful in any way, the company can repeal the offer. In summary, yes, I recommend everybody negotiate. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
What strategies can prospective employees use to negotiate a better job offer?
Most important is to begin your negotiations being grateful for the offer, respectful, and professional vs. emotional. Try to negotiate with your hiring manager, not the recruiter or other intermediary. The hiring manager has the budget and is the ultimate decision-maker. And, they already want you on their team, so they are motivated to assure you are satisfied. Also, write out the specifics of your negotiation, and e-mail it prior to discussions. Keep it brief, but clear. Itemize every request you have, provide a target for a satisfactory solution and provide the justification for the request.