5 Steps to Salary Negotiation

When thinking about salary negotiation, oftentimes students can fear rejection, feeling guilty, or being disappointed. Being well versed in salary negotiation skills can help combat these feelings, and could lead to you earning the competitive salary that you deserve. Check out our top five tips to help you negotiate your salary after receiving a job offer. 

  1. First, know your qualifications and how they fit with the role that you have been offered. Assess your qualifications for the position by going over your resume and writing down all of your skills so you can see them clearly. You could also make a T chart where you list expectations of the employer in one column and how you meet those qualifications in the other column. Meeting (or exceeding!) the qualifications of the role gives you solid ground to stand upon as you begin your negotiation.
  2. Research is another important step in salary negotiation because it allows you to have an understanding of the typical salary range for the role. Websites like salary.compayscale.com, and glassdoor.com list salary data that serve as a helpful starting point. There are some key factors you will want to consider when researching salaries for the position. For example, you should consider the cost of living in the state or city where you will be working. Oftentimes, in places where the cost of living is lower, salaries are expected to be lower. NerdWallet has a great cost of living calculator that will help you alter your targeted salary based on your location. You will also want to consider housing, dining, entertainment, and travel among other costs when searching for a target salary. Check out PaycheckCity to help you determine how well an annual salary will cover your yearly expenses.
  3. Once you have prepared to negotiate, it is time to set your standards and stick to them. Set an ideal salary range that includes your target salary you calculated in step 2, plus 10-20% more to create the top of your range. Base the difference percentage on your experience and qualifications that fit into the role you are seeking. For instance, if you exceed the qualifications of the role, you may feel comfortable beginning your negotiation by proposing a salary that is 20% above your target. Offering a range shows you are willing to compromise. Having a walk-away point can be beneficial before beginning negotiation conversations. The walk-away point is the lowest salary you are willing to accept and still reach agreement before you decline the offer.
  4. Have an actual conversation with your employer. If you haven’t yet secured the position, you can deflect from the conversation regarding salaries by saying something like “What’s most important to me is whether or not the job is a good fit for me.” If they continue to push and you must directly answer, use your research, and give them your expected range. This is yet another reason why research is so important to negotiation and the job search process as a whole. When negotiating after you have been offered the position, you will again need to rely on your research. Reach out and let your employer know you were expecting and are worth a higher salary and ask if you can have a further conversation. For example, “I am pleased to read the initial annual salary of $45,000 provided by your company. However, my research shows that I should expect a salary between $50,000-$55,000. I am confident I am suited to the job and your company, so is there any way we can discuss salary further?” You can find further examples on our website here. Remember, it’s important to have confidence and strength in these conversations.
  5. If an employer cannot meet your target salary, think about negotiating for benefits that will supplement the difference (i.e., more paid time off, more flexibility in your schedule, more opportunity to work from home). Remember your walk-away point that you calculated in step 3. Sometimes, it can be scary and intimidating to decline an offer, but if you are unable to achieve a fair and equitable salary and benefits package, it is important to walk away. 

Taking these steps will ensure that you are ready to engage in salary negotiation. Even if you aren’t a pro negotiator, these measures can help you feel prepared enough to have a conversation and advocate for yourself.  

Happy Negotiating!  

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