Congratulations, you got a job offer! Now what?

Salary negotiations happen after you have received an official offer. Negotiating your salary is always appropriate. You should approach this topic with some idea of what you are looking for in a salary. However, sometimes jobs will ask you to provide an expected salary in your application. We will go through what to do in both scenarios.

At the beginning of your job search, spend time planning your salary to be ready for a conversation at the beginning of the process or at the end. Check out the following steps to help plan your approach:

Planning Your Salary

  1. Conduct some research on the field or industry. Become knowledgeable of the salary ranges for your position. There are many online salary surveys and trade publications that are good sources for salary information.
  2. Decide upon a livable target income. Are there bonuses, commissions, or incentives available with your company? You can ask these questions in the interviews.
  3. Consider a salary range based on benefits including health, life, dental and vision insurance, commuter benefits, health + wellness benefits, 401(k) and retirement benefits, equity and stock benefits, access to company services, paid time off, parental leave, relocation fees, etc.
  4. Develop a target range that you are comfortable with. Your target should be competitive and fair and fall within this range. Define a minimum salary for yourself. When you negotiate, start with a higher salary; never start with your lowest number.

Organize Your Research

Put a package together that you are comfortable with, considering not only monetary salary but other benefits as well. Practice sharing this package with others (friends, family, Career Development Center). You want to be confident in your worth and expectations!

For jobs requiring salary expectations at the beginning of your application:

Sometimes it’s inevitable that you are required to provide a number in your application. It’s important to do your research in advance and then provide a number that is higher than your minimum, but not completely out of the typical range. Do not give your lowest number; always give a higher number based on the assumption that they are negotiating down or will meet you in the middle. 

For jobs negotiating salary around the job offer:

Express your sincere interest in the offer. You must want the job first, before you can realistically
negotiate. Speak calmly and confidently. Be sure to practice these talking points in advance:

  • Remind them of your value: What problems will you solve for them? What value will you bring to their company?
  • Be prepared with research: Show them you know what you are talking about and be creative in your negotiation. 
  • If possible, wait for the employer to make the first offer: Show that you are motivated by the work, not the money, while still knowing your professional worth.
  • Be patient and persistent: Initial negotiating will often be met with a “no.” Continue the conversation by asking questions and gently pushing back. You can expect the person you’re talking with to have to find out if there is room. They may not know right away.
  • Negotiate more than the salary: You can negotiate benefits, as well, including paid time off, a hybrid schedule, a sign-on bonus, relocation fees, professional development opportunities, etc.
  • Salary negotiation is about compromising and working together: You want the job and the job wants you, so work together with the hiring manager and employer. If you’re a happy employee, they’ll be happier, too.

Common Roadblocks

Many times, especially for entry-level positions, there is no room to negotiate salary due to
inexperience, peer salaries, limited budgets, or standard new hire salaries. If this is the case, you may be able to negotiate future salary options.

  • A single lump-sum signing bonus: It’s nice to have, but it has no impact on your future earnings. Signing bonuses are not calculated as salary when it comes to future raises.
  • A 90- or 120-performance review with raise included: You can negotiate the percentage increase now, if you have confidence in your abilities.
  • A title promotion and raise after three or four months: You may want to accept a position with the possibility of a promotion in the near future. Be sure to have this in writing.
  • A year-end bonus: Projects on the current year or what last year’s bonus was have no credibility on what the bonus will be. Get a five-year history of year-end bonuses to get a more realistic idea of what may be given in the future.
  • Things other than cash: Commuting expenses, cell phone bills, and entertainment allowances are all things that companies may be willing to pick up, and they represent real dollars to you because they decrease your out-of-pocket expenses.

Whatever the final agreement may be, make sure you get it in writing. Having too many go-between people may lead to a misinterpretation of something in your agreement with the company.

Understand the Offer

Remember these questions when understanding an offer:

  • What is the salary for this position? Are there other forms of compensation (e.g., commissions)?
  • Is there a 401(k) plan? What are the details? Does the company match your contributions?
  • What’s the company’s vacation policy? Sick policy?
  • Is there tuition reimbursement?
  • How will your work be evaluated? How often are performance reviews tied to a raise?
  • Does the company reimburse moving expenses or relocation fees?
  • What are the different areas to live in like within commuting distance of the company?
  • What are typical commuting costs? Is there parking available?

For guidance and more personalized questions, contact your career advisor.