Salary Negotiations

Photo of a student at a career fair.

Salary, Hiring and Employment Negotiations

Employers often anticipate negotiation as a part of the hiring process and express surprise when candidates “leave money on the table” by not engaging in this activity. Even so, effective negotiations are a delicate process. Whether you are starting a new position or requesting to move up in your current role, being well-informed and prepared when you enter hiring or employment negotiations will boost your chances of success. To make your point effectively, you need to develop a strategy that the other side finds persuasive. The impact of your efforts may boil down to:

  • How well-informed and prepared you are as you launch the negotiation, and
  • How skillfully you present your request.

Start by doing research about the organization and industry to determine to what extent negotiation is realistic:

  • What is the organization’s financial status? For example, if it is publicly traded, how are the company's current earnings looking? How has it performed in the past 1 – 3 years? (See www.reuters.com for for-profits and www.guidestar.org for not-for-profits).
  • What has been happening with the employer/industry in the news? How are they performing (or being funded in the case of NGOs and nonprofits) relative to the overall economy?
  • What is the employment outlook like? Is the employer doing a lot of hiring? Is the organization having trouble filling crucial positions due to low unemployment?
  • How are the organization’s competitors performing financially?
  • What are prevailing wages for this position in your area, at your education, skill and experience level? (To research this, see salary links at the bottom this page.
  • How in-demand is your own skill set?

Prepare your presentation carefully:

  • Based on your research, develop points that demonstrate how your skills would positively impact the organization’s bottom line and/or help it to accomplish its mission;
  • Make your request while demonstrating interpersonal awareness: show how your team might benefit as well as how your request makes sense for the overall organization;
  • If you are employed and requesting a raise or additional responsibilities, consider the wisdom of seeking your boss’s advice in an effective way to request what you desire;
  • Practice by negotiating in other settings such as roles in class, on teams or committees.

Among the things you can negotiate for:

  • Salary increase, signing or seasonal bonuses, stock options if publically traded. (Note that a salary increase will benefit you cumulatively);
  • More work-from-home days, more vacation time;
  • Parking space, fitness center access, or other perks that will improve your quality of life;
  • Chance to work with a mentor;
  • Opportunity to prove value and re-negotiate after [x] months.

Where to find out more:

The following links are websites that post various wages for jobs all around the United States. For governmental jobs look at Payrates. All others can be found on Glassdoor, Educate to Career Salary Calculator, and Salary.com. You can also find a cost-of-living calculator at nerdwallet.