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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Negotiating Salary

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"In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." ~Chester L Karrass


Employers in all industries are expecting you to negotiate salary. When an offer is extended, employers will not renege the offer if you ask to negotiate. The worst that can happen is they will say that it is not negotiable and the offer stands. At that point, you can make the decision to accept or decline the offer.

In addition, your first salary that you receive will often play into the raises you receive in that organization as well as your starting salary if you move to another organization. The higher your starting salary will often result in higher earning potential over a lifetime.

It is also important to note that many women do not negotiate salary which has played into the fact that “over her working life, a woman will earn $1million less than a man simply because she is a woman” (WAGE Project).

When do you discuss salary?
 It is appropriate to discuss salary when the job offer is on the table or the employer brings it up first. However, you have the most leverage if there is an offer on the table. In this situation, they have chosen you for this position and you now have the upper hand. Take this opportunity to negotiate.

Salary may also come up earlier in conversations in the hiring process. Because of this, salary research should be conducted prior to any interviewing. Essentially, your goal at this point is to gain an understanding of the salary range for the position and determine if this will meet your requirements. When employers bring up salary early on in conversations, their goal is to ensure you are on the same page so they do not continue to pursue you as a candidate if the position does not meet your salary requirements.

Evaluating Total Compensation
When negotiating your salary, remember that it is not just about the dollar amount they offer you. Also consider items like retirement and healthcare benefits, vacation time, childcare coverage, company vehicles and cell phones, reimbursement programs for professional development, moving expenses, gym memberships, parking permits, etc. These all add up and contribute to your total compensation package. To better illustrate this:

  Company A Company B
Base Salary $30,000 $35,000
Medical $0 $840
Parking $0 $912
401k Match $1,500 $0
  10% contribution 10% contribution
  Match 1st 5% No Match
Perks $2,000 $0
Taxes $7,290 $8,505
27% taxable income    
Actual Compensation $26,210 $24,743

Source: University of Wisconsin-River Falls


Tips for negotiation:

  • Do not be the first person to mention a salary figure. If an employer asks about salary requirements or expectations, simply ask them first “what is the salary range for the position?” This way, you will have additional information up front which will help ensure more successful negotiations.
  • Do research ahead of time! Review websites and ask professionals in the field how much one can expect to make in an entry-level ____ position.
  • Factor in location when researching salaries. Salaries tend to be higher in large metro areas in comparison to small rural communities.
  • Be respectful in your negotiations and approach the negotiation process with an open mind.
  • Have a range in mind based upon your research of the market value of your assets, your education, and experience. Your range should start with the minimum figure acceptable to you and go somewhat higher than your desired figure.
  • Always start with a figure higher than your ideal. This gives you room to negotiate down and still result in the number you were hoping for.
  • Know your bottom line! At what point are you willing to walk away?
  • Be creative in your negotiations. Sometimes you cannot negotiate your gross pay, but you can negotiate when you might receive your first review and a raise, what percentage of a bonus you will receive, additional vacation time, or professional development funds. Think outside of the box.
  • Take time to consider the offer. Request 24-48 hours to make a decision and to provide additional time for follow-up questions.


Salary Requirements or Salary History
Experts on salary negotiation suggest that you not be the first to name a salary figure. Leave this field blank on an application, or if asked during an interview, reply “I will consider any reasonable offer.” Other suggestions for dealing with applications or want ads that request a salary requirement are to ignore the request, state that the salary is negotiable, or that you expect to earn market value for someone in your field. If an employer insists that your salary requirements or a salary history be stated in your cover letter, we suggest you give a range with low end 10% higher than your target salary.

For example, a sentence such as “As a new graduate, I do not have a professional salary history at this time. However, based on the research I have done, I would be willing to start salary negotiations between $____ to $_____” Or, “As for my salary requirements, I feel a salary in the range of $__ , ____ to $__ , ____ would be acceptable for this position.”

Salary Negotiation Resources and Websites:

U.S. Department of Labor Salary Information

Quick National Salary Search

Salary Negotiation for Women

Salary Research, Reports, and Cost of Living Calculator

Glass Door


For salary information specific to Minnesota State University, Mankato graduates (if available for that program):

  • Go to the following link specific to Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Click on the program of interest (e.g. Accounting)
  • Click on the "View program performance" directly under the heading "Program: Accounting"
  • Scroll to mid-page and you should see the option "Hourly graduate wages" directly under the "Employment rate"