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Salary Negotiation

Salary negotiation is an area that receives little attention, but is an important part of the job search. Once offered a job, you have the opportunity to discuss the terms of your employment. Negotiations may be uncomfortable, but can make a positive difference in your satisfaction with the position and the needs of the hiring organization.


A negotiation is a series of communications (either oral or in writing) that reach a conclusion between the new employee and hiring company. Successful negotiating is planned and requires strategy, presentation and patience.

Research Tools to Calculate Salary

You have many tools available to find different salary ranges. You need to utilize these tools prior to interviewing or negotiating.

The Job Offer & Continued Career Action Plan

WWe uncovered some great salary negotiation information from Lily Maestas a counselor at the Counseling and Career Services center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She happily agreed to allow us to provide some suggestions for successful salary negotiation.


Gather as much factual information as you can to back up the case you want to make. For example, if most entering employees cannot negotiate salary, you may be jeopardizing the offer by focusing on that aspect of the package. Turn your attention to other parts of the offer such as their health plan, dental plan, retirement package, the type of schedule you prefer, etc.

Psychological preparation:

Chances are that you will not know the person with whom you will be negotiating. If you are lucky enough to be acquainted, spend some time reviewing what you know about this person's communication style and decision-making behavior. Since most people find the unknown a bit scary ask yourself what approach to negotiating you find most comfortable.

  • What will make you confident enough to ask for what you want?
  • How will you respond to counteroffers?
  • What are your alternatives?
  • What's your bottom line?
  • What is your strategy?

Be sure you know exactly what you want, not approximately. This knowledge does not mean you will get what you want, but having the information will help you determine what you are willing to concede. Unless you know what you want, you won't be able to tell somebody else. Clarity improves communication, which makes for more effective negotiations.


Rehearse the presentation in advance using another person as the employer. If you make mistakes in rehearsal, chances are that you will not repeat them during the actual negotiations. A friend can critique your reasoning and help you prepare for questions.

Dollars & sense:

Always begin by expressing genuine interest in the position and the organization, emphasizing the areas of agreement but allowing "wiggle room" to compromise on other areas. Be prepared to support your points of disagreement, outlining the parts you would like to alter, your suggestions on how this can be done and why it would serve the company's best interests to accommodate your request.

Be prepared to defend your proposal. Back up your reasons for wanting to change the offer with meaningful work-related skills and positive benefits to the employer. Requesting a salary increase because you are a fast learner or have a high GPA usually are not justifiable reasons in the eyes of the employer. Meaningful work experience or internships that have demonstrated or tested your professional skills are things that will make an employer stop and take notice.

Job-seekers are sometimes more comfortable making this initial request in writing and then planning to meet later to hash out the differences. You will need to be fairly direct and assertive at this poi nt even though you may feel extremely vulnerable. Keep in mind that the employer has chosen you from a pool of qualified applicants, so you are not as powerless as you think.

Sometimes the employer will bristle at the suggestion that there is room to negotiate. Stand firm, but encourage the employer to think about it for a day or two at which time you will discuss the details of your proposal with him/her.

Do not rush the process because you are uncomfortable. The employer may be counting on this discomfort and use it to derail the negotiations. Remember, there are a series of trade-offs and compromises that occur over a period of time. Negotiation is a process, not a singular event!

Once you have reached a conclusion with which you are both relatively comfortable, be sure to get a written agreement to allow any questions to be immediately addressed. Negotiation, by definition, implies that each side will give. Do not perceive it as an ultimatum.

If the employer chooses not to grant any of your requests-and realistically, he or she can do that-you will still have the option of accepting the original offer provided you have maintained a positiv e, productive and friendly atmosphere during your exchanges.

Money isn't everything:

You can negotiate other aspects of your package besides salary. For example, benefits can add thousands of dollars to the compensation package. Benefits can range from paid personal leave to discounts on the company's products and services. They constitute more than just icing on the cake; they may be better than the cake itself. Traditional benefits packages include health insurance, paid vacation and personal/sick days.

Let us help! Request a Career Planning Appointment.

We can help talk you through the negotiation process. Let us know as soon as possible by requesting a Career Planning appointment in GCL.

Let us help!

We can help talk you through the negotiation process. Let us know as soon as possible by requesting a Career Planning appointment in GCL.

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