Negotiating Your Salary

Employers in all industries expect you to negotiate salary. 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 affect the raises you receive and potential starting salary if you move to another organization. A higher 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 $1 million 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. 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. 

Salary Requirements or Salary History
Experts 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. Sites like and glassdoor can give you an idea.

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.”