5 Steps to Negotiating Salary
If a position is acceptable to you as it is offered, you should not feel like you must negotiate. If you do decide to negotiate, the job offer will not be withdrawn. Just remember that an employer may decide not to negotiate.

Before you can evaluate a job offer, you should gather information about salary averages and assess your values. Here are a few resources that will help you gather information about salary averages:

UGA Post Graduation Survey Results
This resource provides average salaries of UGA graduates in your field. You can search the results by college or major. Be sure to pay attention to the number of respondents so you have an idea of how many people elected to report salary information. Click here to view Post Graduation Survey Results.

NACE Salary Survey
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) provides national averages for starting salaries. Please view the  chart to the right for more information. You may also access the NACE Salary Calculator Center, a salary survey data resource offered by the National Association of Colleges and Employer.

Provides salary averages for your field and in your geographic area of interest.

The Vault
Browse occupation surveys for information, including compensation, on specific positions.

  1. Go to the Career Center's Online Resources page and log-in with your 9-digit UGA id number
  2. After logging into the Vault, click on "Industry Research" from the list.
  3. At the next window, you will see "Industry Overviews," scroll down until you see another tab that says "Career Surveys"
  4. At the next window, choose the industry you would like to see salary information for.
  5. Once you choose an industry you will see a listing of several positions within that industry.

The Salary Wizard embedded in CareerSearch offers salary information on a spectrum of job titles.

  1. Go to the Career Center's Online Resources page and log-in with your 9-digit UGA id number
  2. Choose "Career Search" from the online resources menu and log-in
  3. Once logged into "Career Search," click on "Salary Wizard".
  4. Click on “help” for further assistance on using the Salary Wizard

Identify and rank your values. This will help you remember an offer is not just about salary, but about what you value in a position. Some of the values you may consider are; location, responsibility, flexibility, stability, benefits, prestige, independence, supervisory style, public contact, mental stimulation, teamwork, salary, personal growth, recognition, freedom to make decisions, low stress level, variety, helping others, challenge, and competition.

Decide on the minimum amount of compensation (make it realistic with the type of job offered) that will make you satisfied. Establish a budget and don't neglect to account for taxes taken out of your pay. There is no point in accepting an offer if you think you'll be unsatisfied and want to look for another job in the near future. If an employer refuses to meet or exceed this amount, it is to your advantage to keep looking.

Step Two: Know the Employer's Compensation Guidelines
How does a job offer process develop? Although there are many ways to deliver an offer, they are typically presented from one of three different viewpoints. Companies fall into one of these three categories depending upon their attitude about salary and negotiation. Here are those various philosophies and what the difference might mean to you:

Fixed Offer: You can negotiate all you want, but it won't do you any good. They operate on a take it or leave it basis so you may not want to waste your time negotiating.

Pay-Grade System: This is a system in which a salary range has been set and you will be paid within this range based on your experience and the duties associated with the job. You may be able to negotiate within the salary range. The pay-grade system is the most common compensation system encountered.

The Negotiator: This type of system is rare because most organizations work within a structure. In this framework, the employer will have the authority to raise or lower your salary without going through bureaucratic red tape.

Step Three: Salary and Benefit Negotiation
If an employer makes an offer that is below your expectation, you don't want to offend them so you might start the conversation by asking what the benefits include.

To proceed, you might want to use one of the following approaches to begin the negotiation process:
Approach 1: "I am very interested in the position, but I would like to discuss the salary you are offering."
Approach 2: "I really want this position, but I was a little disappointed that the offer was lower than I expected."

When using either approach, be certain to support your case by stating your skills, the average salary range for your level of experience in your field and the average salaries for UGA graduates in your field. It is best to let the employer respond and then continue the discussion from their lead.

Based on an employer's compensation guidelines, you may not be able to negotiate a higher salary. However, you may be able to increase your compensation in benefits. Negotiable areas often include: vacation time (it's often increased for more senior employees), educational reimbursement and salary review (you might negotiate a salary review after three months rather than six months or a year). Remember, you may be negotiating with the person who will be your supervisor. Stay polite. Try to make it a win-win situation.

Tips for negotiating salary:

  • You must have an offer before you can negotiate. Just because the recruiter brings up compensation during the interview does not mean you are in a position to negotiate. Don’t be the first to bring up discussion about salary.
  • Everything is negotiable! Do not accept or decline an offer based on salary alone.
  • Anyone can negotiate! Forget what you think about squabbling over figures in a confrontational debate. Negotiating is a conversation for win-win solutions.
  • Negotiations are over when you accept the offer. Get it in writing!
  • With multiple offers, DO NOT engage employers in a bidding war for your services.
  • The highest salary is NOT necessarily the best choice when comparing offers.
  • Research! You should have a clear idea of what the salary range is for the job and the employer to be able to value your worth to them. Understand how your skills, experience, education, and geographic location stack up in the marketplace.

Step Four: Assessing the Job Offer
Consider the pros and the cons of the offer. It may help to create a chart. A chart may also be helpful if you have had more than one offer and you want to compare and contrast the merits of each offer.

Sample Job Offer Chart

Job Responsibilities      
Company Reputation/ Stability      
Health Insurance      
Paid Vacation      
Tuition Reimbursement      
Training/Professional Development      
Signing Bonus      
Stock Options         

Step Five: Get It In Writing
It would be nice if everything discussed would actually occur, but unfortunately it doesn't always happen that way. To avoid problems in the future, ask for a letter of employment which states all the employment conditions agreed upon, (i.e. salary and benefits as well as a thorough job description). This way, if there is confusion at a later date, you will have a written document to refer to stating the conditions under which you were hired. This document is especially important if the conditions of your employment differ from normal company policies.