The Negotiation Game
Would you throw away $2,500? Job seekers unknowingly lose money every day by accepting the first salary offer they receive. There is almost always room for negotiation, and the game begins at the first mention of money.
Rule Number One: Avoid discussing salary until you have a job offer.
- Politely avoid the question or turn it back to them: “I’d really like to hear more about the opportunity before we discuss salary.” “Although salary is an important factor, it’s not my main motivator, so I’m flexible in that regard.” “Is there an established range for the position?”
- If an employer insists that you give a salary requirement, provide a wide range and let them know you are flexible: “My understanding is that professionals in this field and at this level typically earn $28,000 to $35,000. My salary needs are comparable and I would be happy to discuss them further when an offer is extended.”
Rule Number Two: Know the salary ranges for your industry and position type.
- Research salaries for your field, level of experience, and geographic region through Web sites such as Salary.com, Indeed.com, and PayScale.com.
- Politely inquire about average salaries when networking or conducting informational interviews.
- Review salary guides available in the Career Center library.
Rule Number Three: When the offer comes, be enthusiastic, but don’t be hasty.
- Convey your appreciation for the offer and continued enthusiasm for the organization and position, and feel comfortable asking for a day or two to consider the offer.
- Fully understand what is being offered and consider requesting your offer in writing; employers are generally willing to e-mail details.
- Use this compensation worksheet (PDF) to review all of the details of your package, including salary, bonuses, leave, and health benefits.
- Weigh the entire package, invite input from trusted advisors, make an informed decision, and prepare your response.
Rule Number Four: If you choose to negotiate, prepare your counteroffer.
- Negotiate your salary according to the skills and contributions you’ll bring to the organization – not according to your desired earnings. Highlight your research findings, reiterate your unique qualifications, and prepare a response such as: “I believe that a salary of $32,000 plus your generous benefits package is more in line with the skills and experience that I bring to this position.”
- If there are multiple aspects of your offer that you need to address, discuss them all in the same conversation.
- Practice your counteroffer, similar to a mock interview, with your career advisor or other confidant.