Salary/Offer Negotiation

Salary negotiation is less intimidating than you may realize. Most employers actually expect you to negotiate. Employers who provide offers tend to shoot low on their salary range. However, the goal with any salary negotiation is ensuring you receive what you are worth, if not more!

The 3 Ps of Salary Negotiation

Preparation: Being prepared for this process is absolutely essential for successful negotiating.

  • Research the company and its culture, using annual reports, websites and reference materials. Factor in geographical location (for instance, the standard of living in California is much different than Minnesota) as well as your own market value (your years of relevant experience, education and skills).
  • To better understand your market value, compare yourself to an applicant with a similar degree, field-related experience and skills. Determine what aspects (experience, skills, education) make you an “above-average” applicant. These factors solidify your reasoning for deserve higher salary rate.
  • In addition to the research you conduct, assess and reflect on your personal criteria for what you want in an offer package. What are your “must-haves”? What are your “would-like-to-haves”? What are your “can-live-withouts”? For example, your must-haves may include paid holidays, your would-like-to-haves may include profit sharing benefits, and things you would be willing to live without may include some evening hours.

Poise: This section pertains to your ability to remain calm and confident in uncomfortable or frustrating situations.

  • Do not reveal your salary requirements too early in the process. The SPH Career and Professional Development Center can assist you in determining when the best time would be.
  • Convey confidence throughout the entire process. Remember, you would not have gotten the interview if they didn’t think you could do the job!
  • Show enthusiasm and appreciation for any offer they do provide.
  • Stay positive!
  • DO NOT accept the offer on the spot. If needed, ask for at least a day or two (if not longer) to think about it. Allow the good news to settle in but, more importantly, give yourself the time to “prepare”.

Professional: The way you negotiate is an example of the behavior the employer will expect to see on the job; this is where confidence and realistic expectations come into play.

  • Understand the dynamics of the situation (for instance, you may negotiate differently if you have been job searching for a long time vs. if you have several offers to consider).
  • Remain focused and positive. You and the employer share a common goal – getting you to feel good about joining the company.
  • Ask questions. Hearing how they arrived at their offer may give you clues about alternatives. The more questions you ask, the more clarity you will have throughout the negotiation process.
  • Detach yourself from the outcome – it will help you relax AND you won’t alienate your future boss.
  • Focus on the value of the total compensation package, including salary, benefits package, and, sometimes, signing bonuses or relocation assistance.
  • Know where you are willing to compromise
  • Know when to quit. If they are not budging… don’t push it.

Additional Tips

During the Interview Process:

  • Do not be the first one to approach salary; always wait for the employer to bring it up.
  • Do not negotiate salaries until a job offer has been made.
  • If asked about salary issues before a job offer has been made, you may ask “What is the range for this position?”
  • Avoid mentioning past salary or hourly wage rates history or information unless asked.
  • Never stop selling yourself. Tell the company how you will benefit them throughout the negotiation process.

Once the Job Offer Has Been Made:

  • When first given a salary offer, respond by repeating the figure, then staying silent for about 15-30 seconds, as you think it over.
  • Remember, benefits are often (not always) negotiable. Increased or customized benefits packages can equalize the value of employer salary offers with your individual salary goals. If you will not use a specific benefit, ask for another in its place or monetary compensation; substitution may not be an option but it never hurts to ask. Note: benefits cost the company 30-40% in addition to your salary. The addition of these benefits are typically referred to as the “Total Compensation Package.”

After the Negotiation:

When you think you have reached a satisfactory agreement:

  • Don’t accept a job, salary, or benefits offer at the table. Ask for at least 24 hours to think it over before responding.
  • Always get the job, salary, and benefits offer in writing before formally accepting.
  • If the employer doesn’t offer a formal letter, you may write your own. Include details about the job, start date, hours/schedule, salary, and benefits and ask your potential employer to agree to it by signing your letter.
  • Finally, not all negotiations go as well as one would hope. Don’t be afraid to walk away. You’ll be more confident, and, in some cases, may receive higher compensation.

Additional Resources:

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