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Tips for Negotiating Salaries

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Pink piggy bank on a calculator

1. Do your research

  • Never, ever pull a random number out of thin air when you're talking to a recruiter or a hiring manager. Check out sites like Glassdoor and to get a sense of a standard salary for the opportunity you're pursuing

  • You can also try speaking to individuals who started out at an entry level position in the company. Although folks may be hesitant to disclose their current salary, many won't blink when asked what their starting salary was — especially if they've been working for a number of years. You may even find that some contacts offer you negotiating tips they wish they'd taken.

2. Build out a budget

  • How much do you need to live on? Don’t negotiate just to negotiate.

  • Create a budget, taking into consideration your geographical location, lodging expenses, transportation costs, student loan payments, and retirement contributions.

3. Negotiate at the right time

  • Never be the first one to bring up compensation. If a potential employer tries to broach the conversation earlier than you'd like, don't feel intimidated. Here are some suggested responses:

  • “As a student, my jobs to this point have been geared toward gaining experience and earning money to cover my educational costs.”

  • If you're pressed, you can turn the tables: “I am not familiar with the salary structure here at XYZ company. Can you share with me what the job pays?” OR

  • "Of course salary is important but I am really looking for the right fit. I am confident that you will make me a competitive offer if the fit is there.”

4. Once the offer is made

  • Do not feel pressure to give the employer an answer on the spot. More importantly, acknowledge the offer! Tell them how exciting this is. Then, “I would like some time to process this. When do you need to know by?”

  • Negotiation should always be done by phone or in person. Never by email or text.

  • Start the negotiation by asking, “Is the offer firm?” and be quiet!

  • If they are open to a discussion that is when you name what salary you are looking for.

5. Look at the whole picture

  • Compensation isn't just about salary. Do not think in terms of hourly wage. If they give you an hourly wage. Multiple it by 2080 (the number of hours in a fulltime 40 hour a week position on an annual basis.)

  • Consider all aspects—including benefits like tuition reimbursement, time off, and employer contributions to retirement savings accounts., health insurance premiums, and 401(k) matches.—in addition to the salary figure.

  • Benefits can be up to 40% on top of the annual salary.

6. Keep your ego in check

  • On the one hand, you should have some confidence going into the negotiation. You have leverage. At this point, the hiring manager clearly thinks you're a great fit and wants to hire you

  • However, don't let that go to your head. Your best bet is to come across as knowledgeable, yet willing to learn. Basically, just try to take a balanced approach throughout the negotiation. Don’t let it become combative

  • Don't let a company force you into a lower salary because you don't yet have years of experience — we all have to start somewhere and your education does count for something — but also recognize that you may need to prove yourself and show you're worthy of a higher salary over time

7. Exude Confidence

  • Make appropriate and consistent eye contact.

  • Ask follow-up questions for each question you are asked.

  • Use confident body language: upright sitting position, not fidgeting, open posture, etc.

  • Breathe deeply and smile.

  • Speak slower than you normally would, and avoid oversharing or babbling.

8. Practice your Pitch

  • Practice this just as you would your Elevator Pitch.

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