Salary & Job Offer Negotiation

The Fundamentals of Salary Negotiation

  1. Determine the market rate salary range for this type of position in this particular industry.
  2. Prepare a budget to determine your financial needs.
  3. Before you go into the interview, decide what salary you want to earn, what you need to live on, and what you will be willing to settle for. Be realistic: entry-level salaries are less negotiable than salaries for mid-level or executive positions.
  4. Practice your salary negotiation skills with a friend or during a mock interview with a career counselor.
  5. Document your skills and accomplishments and be prepared to talk about them. Know why you are worth whatever you expect to be paid!
  6. Don’t be the first to mention salary during the interview, but use the negotiating tips listed below when the topic does come up. Never say, “I need at least ______ dollars.”
  7. Don’t worry about what your friends are making; the employer certainly isn’t.
  8. Once you have accepted a job offer and salary level, be sure to get it in writing.

How can I find out the market rate salary range? – Salary Calculators

Are salaries really negotiable?

The degree to which a salary is negotiable depends on the position, the manager, the organization, your perceived value, and the state of the job market. Most entry level positions have set salaries that are subject to very little if any negotiation, with perhaps a few hundred dollars of negotiating room. Mid-level positions typically have salary ranges between 10 and 20 percent. For example, a job paying $35,000 a year may have a salary range between $31,500 and $38,500. Employers will negotiate within the range, but will rarely exceed it unless you are an exceptional candidate. Most state and federal government jobs have rigid, non-negotiable salary scales based on education and experience. In general, higher level management and executive positions offer the greatest opportunities for negotiation. Once a salary has been offered to you, take time to think about it. Express your strong interest and let your interviewer know that you need some time to think over a decision of this magnitude.

How can I handle questions about salary during an interview?

  1. If asked what your salary requirements are on an application or during an interview, be prepared to provide a $10,000 range based on your research of the market rate salary range. Indicate that your salary requirements are “negotiable.” If an employer requests salary requirements as part of your application and does not provide an application form, you can include your expected salary range in one of the last paragraphs of your cover letter.
  2. Be prepared to receive questions about your salary history. You may believe that your past salary does not accurately reflect your true market value or, if you are a student or recent graduate, you may have never held a salaried position before. In these cases, you can choose to share your previous hourly pay or salary, but redirect the discussion to focus on the value you bring to the employer. Provide examples of your accomplishments that prove your value—don’t just refer to your experience in a general way. Your focus should be on the benefits you’ll bring in the future, rather than on your past salary. Also remember that cost of living differentials affect what you can expect to earn in a new location.
  3. If told, “The salary range for this position is $30,000 to $34,000. Is that what you were expecting?” tell the interviewer that it does come near what you were expecting, and then offer a range which places the top of the employer’s range into the bottom of your range (i.e., I was thinking in terms of $34,000 to $38,000). Remember: be sure that the range you were thinking about is consistent with what you learned about the market rate salary range.
  4. In addition to salary, take into consideration the employee benefit plan when evaluating an offer made by a company. Remember to factor all these things in when you are considering your offer and negotiate.

Evaluate job offers by using the Evaluating Job Offers Worksheet


To make an appointment to discuss Salary Negotiations, login to Handshake and select “Appointments” under the Career Center link on the homepage.