Negotiating Salaries & Job Offers

Whether the job market is strong or not, negotiation is a normal—even expected—part of the hiring process. Working to get the best offer possible can have an impact on your career, affecting satisfaction with your current job as well as your future trajectory.

Don’t be shy. Negotiate!

If you’re concerned about negotiating an offer because you’ve never done it before, that’s understandable. That’s why you’re taking the time to learn how to do something unfamiliar and, yes, a little uncomfortable. Remember, you are bringing value to this organization, now let’s learn how to figure out how much value! To learn more, check out this article.

Do Your Homework on Salary

Know your worth in objective terms. How much does someone in this position, in this industry, in this location, at your experience level, typically make? There is a wealth of resources online to get this information, free of charge, including:

*In addition to online tools, career conversations with an alumnus/a may be a place to politely ask about a salary range for a given role: "Because there is limited information out there about compensation for this role, I wanted to get your personal insight on whether {RANGE} is typical. Do you feel that is reasonable?”

Note: If you are being hired as part of a “class” of new employees, it is very typical that the base salary amount will be the same for everyone in the hiring class. It is highly unlikely that you can negotiate a higher base. 

There's More to Compensation Than Salary

Don’t make the mistake of looking at an offer solely based on salary. There are many other aspects of compensation that are important to your career and quality of life. Such as:

  • Bonuses — signing bonus, annual bonus
  • Vacation, paid time off
  • Medical/dental/vision coverage
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Hours, workplace flexibility, remote work
  • Training, certifications, professional association dues
  • Mentoring, coaching programs
  • Childcare
  • Health and fitness
  • Workplace amenities

If you want to learn more about negotiation strategies, check out this video series through Big Interview.

Negotiation Tips

Here are a few things to consider that will help you negotiate successfully for what you want.

Come to the Table Prepared

Be prepared to present a well-thought out rationale for why you deserve more (i.e., extensive experience, credentials, etc.), and practice articulating the value you will add to their organization. Anticipate and have an answer for any question that could catch you off guard:

• If we make an offer tomorrow, will you accept it?
• Are you considering other offers?
• Are we your first choice?

Let Them Know You Want the Position

Remember, if you’ve been offered a position, it means the employer likes you. They will be much more inclined to be flexible if they’re confident that you would like to take the position. Start by expressing your enthusiasm for joining the team.

Address Multiple Issues at the Same Time

Take the time to identify all issues before beginning to negotiate and address them at the same time. Raising one item at a time will be counterproductive. Be sure to prioritize your concerns, letting the employer know the order of importance.

If Possible, Express Your Desired Salary in a Figure, Not a Range

At this point, you should have an idea of what you’re worth to the organization through some prior research. Start by giving a figure on the high end of your desired salary range so that you have more room to negotiate.

*Note: If a job application asks you to provide a desired salary range, type in a word like “negotiable” if possible. If salary comes up during an interview, an answer like this often works: “I would like to learn more about the entire compensation package, but I had planned on asking for [x amount] for this position.”

Always Be Professional and Personable

Negotiations can be tough. Stick to your rationale and show that you understand the other person’s perspective. Whatever the outcome is, be gracious and grateful.

Get Everything in Writing

The offer letter is critical, particularly after a negotiation. Review the offer letter carefully and make sure that it
includes all the details you negotiated for. Make sure you’re comfortable with the wording.