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Negotiate an Offer

Your salary is a fundamental consideration of your professional life. Negotiating your starting pay and asking for raises are critical factors in choosing what position to take and feeling valued at your job. Below are resources that can help you learn how to affectively negotiate a job offer. 


Quick Negotiating Tips

Did you know in a 2015 survey by the personal finance website, Nerdwallet:

  • 38% of new grads negotiate salary or other benefits.
  • 80% of those who did negotiate were at least partially successful.
  • 90% of employers stated they have never retracted an offer because a candidate wanted to negotiate.

As mentioned before, your starting salary is among the essential salaries you’ll ever have. Most merit-based or cost-of-living raises are based on your current salary. Plus, any other job you apply for will likely require your current salary. In the book Women Don’t Ask, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever write: “One of the things I ask my students is: If you think of a $100,000 salary, and one person negotiates and gets $107,000, and the other doesn’t—what’s the cost of that? In a simple-minded way, some people say, “Is $7,000 really worth risking my reputation over?” And I agree, $7,000 may not be worth your reputation.

But that’s not the correct analysis because that $7,000 is compounded. Suppose you and your counterpart who negotiated are treated identically by the company. In that case, you are given the same raises and promotions—35 years later, you will have to work eight more years to be as wealthy as your counterpart at retirement. ”

1. Understand your walkaway point. Do a cost analysis on how much rent will be, costs of food, gas, and other necessary items. Calculate how much you need to make to understand how low you are willing to go.

2. Do your research. Research fair salary ranges for the job you want and for the area you want to live. Then take the average salary for your position and area and add anywhere from 5% to 10% (or more if you have more leverage than the average student). They will likely counter with something a bit lower, but most will settle for somewhere between the two salary ranges. Even if you negotiate for $1,000 more, that’s still $1,000 more than you had before.

3. Ask for your offer and listen intently. Your goal is to get what you want while simultaneously making the employer feel like they’re also getting what they want. Try to find common ground and use that to your advantage. “My expectation is $X amount based on my qualifications, the scope of this position, and the salary research in this region I’ve conducted on similar roles at this level/ organization.”

4. Consider other items to negotiate. If negotiating salaries is absolutely off the table, what other items would you be willing to negotiate? Top negotiating items other than salary include a flexible schedule, additional time off, or flexibility in start dates. You can also request to be evaluated after a certain period and revisit the negotiation discussion. “I appreciate your honesty in this negotiation process. Is there any way to negotiate other items such as vacation, or could I request an early evaluation and revisit this discussion within 6 months?”

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