Know Your Worth: 3 Reasons You Should Negotiate Your Salary


This blog post has been updated by Kristina Rust, Career Consultant on May 9, 2024 for relevancy, inclusivity, and formatting.


“Salary negotiation” sounds really intimidating and makes many people uncomfortable, but as with any risk you take, the reward can be great. The most common reasons for not negotiating salary are the fear of leaving a bad impression or that the employer will rescind the job offer because they’re offended. If you’ve gotten this far in the hiring process, you have an offer on the table because the recruiter identified you as the best candidate. They actually want you to accept the offer and would rather find a salary you’re comfortable with than go back to the applicant pool.

Salary negotiation is kind of like a dance, and finding your fit with an employer is much like identifying a good dance partner. You let the employer take the lead and follow, being aware of your surroundings and trying not to step on one another. With that said, wait for the employer to make their initial offer. If they ask you directly for your salary requirements and you are not prepared to have that conversation, defer until you have had more time to do so. Hiring managers almost always have a salary range in mind when extending an initial offer, and they expect a candidate to counter and negotiate before finalizing the offer. Asking for more money is not being greedy or demanding. Here are some reasons you should negotiate your salary rather than settle for the first offer you receive:

1. You're curious what you’re worth to the employer

Compensation is a measure of how valued an employee feels by their employer and has an effect on how satisfied and engaged an employee will be. Transparent conversations about pay benefit both employees and employers. It builds trust with employees who feel valued and don’t have to question whether they are underpaid and, as a result, are more likely to fully engage in their work. If you know that open communication about compensation is important to keep you satisfied with one employer, you might as well test out their transparency during the salary negotiation process.

2. You found out through research that you could be worth more

Preparing to negotiate your salary requires an understanding of fair market rates and determining the value of your skills and experience in the marketplace. How does one figure out what they’re worth? By benchmarking their value, and here are a few resources to help you do just that:

  • Glassdoor for base salaries and total compensation for specific companies and job titles
  • PayScale to provide confidential information about your background and job offer and generate a free salary report to compare it to others in your industry
  • UGA Career Outcomes to find salary ranges by UGA major of recent graduates

Using these resources and asking your network for insight, you will prepare your case and produce solid evidence as to why you deserve more. Quantify your accomplishments to use as bargaining power. Be confident in your abilities and remember to state the benefits in terms of what you bring to the employer, not what you get out of it.

3. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

If getting paid what you’re worth isn’t enough motivation for you to ask for a higher starting salary, then maybe FOMO will give you that nudge you need. Your initial salary will be the base from which future raises are adjusted; it can also serve as leverage for future employers should you change companies. So what are you missing out on if you don’t negotiate?

Author of Women Don't Ask, Linday Babcock, conducted a study and found that 7% of women attempted to negotiate their salary, while 57% of men did. Of the individuals who negotiated, they were able to increase their salary by over 7%. If a $100,000 salary is offered to two people, and one negotiates $107,000 while the other doesn’t, that $7,000 is compounded over time. This compounded difference means it may be years before you accumulate the same wealth as your counterpart who did negotiate. Over the course of your career, failing to negotiate your starting salary can cost you. Are you sure you still want to choose to accept that first offer if you know a peer could be doing the same work in the same city for the same company but making more? It’s not always the case that the highest paying employees are the most successful, but it may be that they are good negotiators. You don’t have to be a competitive person to negotiate your salary.

If you find that an employer claims “there’s no flexibility” in the salary range, then ask for benefits, such as more vacation days, tuition reimbursement, or the ability to work from home on Fridays--anything to increase the value of your package. Confidence is an attractive quality to employers, but make sure it is grounded in realistic expectations and data.

For more information, check out the Career Center's After Athens Guide, which includes negotiation scenarios and scripts.

Ask for what you believe you’re worth and get what you deserve -- you definitely won’t be the only one doing it!

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