How to Negotiate Salary for Your Next Job

You’ve received a job offer and you are excited about the opportunity.

Congratulations!

What’s next? Take the first offer they put on the table? Try to negotiate?

Research your worth

Before you get to the job offer, research what you are worth in the marketplace. Start by going to http://www.salary.com. Input the industry, job title, geographic location, your education, your experience, and a variety of other attributes that will produce a bell-shaped curve with the salary range of others in similar positions. It also suggests, based on the information you provided, where your salary should fall within the range. Go in knowing what you are worth. It’s risky to think, “Well, they probably know what this position is worth. I’m sure it’s a fair offer”. It might be, or it might not be. Be prepared before accepting the offer.

After you have researched a fair salary range for the position, remember that you are dealing with well-trained, well-practiced negotiators. They try to make you accept their first offer and not negotiate. That’s their job. Often, they’ve been told by their higher-ups to try to get the best person for the least cost they can.

Knowing you’ll be working with someone who’s trained and looking out for the best interests of the organization, you also need to come in trained and well-practiced. An employer will try to hire you for the lowest salary possible by having you provide your salary expectations before they extend a formal offer. A few scenarios may go like this:

Employer: “If we offered you X amount for this job, would you accept it?”

Your response: “I’d really like to learn more about the job first and see if I’m a good fit.”

Employer: “What kind of salary would it take for you to accept this job?”

Your Response: “If the offer is fair, I’m sure we can reach an agreement.”

If they keep pressing until you’ve answered the salary question, you can respond by saying, “My research tells me that someone with my skills, education, and qualifications in this geographic location should be making between $X and $X.” Let silence be your friend. Show them you’ve done your research and know what you are worth with facts.

Bump up the range a bit from what your research says so you don’t leave money on the table. In a phone screen, bump the range down a bit so you don’t get yourself screened out before an interview. You can always come up during the actual negotiation.

Once you have an offer, ask for it in writing. Request a few days to consider the offer. This buys you time and gives them time to contemplate whether or not you will accept the offer. They might even come back with a higher offer. Know your complete, prioritized, ideal offer. Determine how much you’re willing to negotiate before you ask for more.

Listen closely to the needs the employer is expressing and look for ways to meet both your needs and theirs. Together you are solving a problem. That’s at the heart of interest-based negotiation.

Avoid win-lose language such as:

  • “I absolutely need $10,000 more”
  • “I can’t live with that”
  • “You’re kidding right?”

Use collaborative language

  • “I had in mind more than that, but I’m excited about the opportunity. What can we do?”
  • “My research showed that the range should be closer to $X. How could we work toward that?”
  • “Is there flexibility within the offer?”

Leave the employer knowing you have treated them well throughout the process. Show them you are the type of person they want on their team.

For help with career changes, interviewing, and more visit the CSU Career Center.

Questions? Need some help? 

Email Angela.Hayes@colostate.edu for more information about available resources.

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