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5 Tips for Salary Negotiation

For many people, salary negotiation is an intimidating topic.  It’s not something we do every day, it can feel uncomfortable, and we don’t want to be seen as greedy.  While I don’t recommend salary negotiation for everyone (honestly, not everyone’s offer warrants negotiating)…if you do decide to negotiate, take into account my following top five tips.  (Not sure if you should negotiate in the first place?  Check out a previous blog on this topic here.)  

Tip #1:  Avoid pre-offer negotiations.
Ideally you won’t talk money until the offer has been made.  But if you are asked in an online job application or in an interview setting what your salary requirements are, try to avoid naming a figure.  Instead, offer that your “salary is negotiable”, that you “anticipate being paid the market rate”, or that you would “consider a reasonable offer based on (your) education and experience.” 

Tip #2: Do your research.
Know what you are worth!  Use quality resources to assess your value.  In negotiations, you should reference where you obtained your data.  You aren’t pulling your favorite numbers out of a hat…these resources are well known, reliable, and typically representative of entry level work.  My favorites include:

Tip #3:  Understand why you are negotiating.
What about this offer makes it unsatisfying? Are you being offered less than the market rate based on your major/previous work experience/academic track record?  Do you have a comparable yet stronger offer?  Do you have something unique and special to offer that makes finding qualified candidates for this position difficult?  Is there a cost of living differential?  Be sure to identify why you are asking for more.

Tip #4:  Have a plan. 
As with many facets of life, practice makes perfect.  Plan out what you want to say.  In fact, WRITE OUT what you want to say.  Start with the positives—what you like about the job, why you are well suited for it…then be factual.  Ask for the specific number that you’ve identified that would be more appropriate given your previous research and analysis.   Practice your script several times prior to negotiating so that you are very comfortable with what you plan to say.  Check your attitude as well—you don’t want to dominate the other person!  Part of your success will hinge on your approach.

Tip #5:  Negotiate verbally—not in an email. 
Consensus is that the personal nature of a conversation works in your favor regarding salary negotiation.  Avoid email, as it’s very easy for someone to say “no."  Email can sometimes lead to misunderstandings in tone as well, not to mention possible back and forth messages can be frustrating for involved parties.  Call the person who issued the offer, plan to ask any and all questions you have related to the job offer, and once you have addressed those, finish up with the salary negotiation conversation.

Interested in learning more about salary negotiation?  ECS offers workshops on the topic each semester.  We also offer one-on-one salary negotiation consultations, as we realize everyone’s situation is not the same. 

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.”
-Brian Koslow

About the author

Rachel Kaschner

Rachel Kaschner is the Assistant Director at Engineering Career Services.