How to Negotiate Salary for Your Next Job

By Angela Hayes

You’ve been offered a new job and are feeling excited about the opportunity. Congratulations! What should you do next? Should you take the first offer they put on the table? Should you try to negotiate?

Do your research

Before you even get to the point of the job offer, it is vitally important that you research what you are worth in the marketplace. To research what salary you should be making, you can go to http://www.salary.com and put in the industry, job title, geographic location, your education, your experience and a variety of other attributes that will then produce a bell-shaped curve to tell you the range of what others are making on the low end, middle and high end. It also suggests, based on the information you provided, where your salary should fall within that range. And that range is golden for you. That way you go in knowing what you should be worth to them. You don’t want give all that power to the employer. It’s risky to think, “Well, they probably know what this position is worth. I’m sure it’s a fair offer.” It might be, or it might not be. That’s something you’ll want to make sure to check before accepting the offer.

After you have researched a fair salary range for the position, it’s best to remember that you are often dealing with well-trained, well-practiced negotiators. They know how to get you to not even try to negotiate and they know how to make you feel kind of guilty about it if you do. That’s their job. Often, they’ve been told by their higher-ups to try to get the best person for the least cost they can.

Be prepared

So, knowing that you’ll likely be working with someone who’s trained and is obviously looking out for the best interests of the organization, you need to come in trained and well-practiced also. The most common example of the way an employer will try to hire you for the lowest salary possible, is to try to get you to name a figure before they have extended a formal offer. Do everything you can not to be the first to name a figure. So, they might say something like “If we offered you X amount for this job, would you accept it?” A good response for you would be something like “I’d really like to learn more about the job first. I need to know if I’m a good fit and that you’re offering me the job.” Or they might say “What kind of salary would it take for you to accept this job?” and you can say “If the offer is fair, I’m sure we can reach an agreement.”

If they keep pressing and won’t go forward until you’ve answered the salary question, then say, “My research tells me that someone with my skills, education, and qualifications in this geographic location should be making between _____and _________.” And then let silence be your friend. Let it sink in that you’ve done your research and know what you should be making with reasoned, justified facts. Also, you might want to bump up the range just a bit from what your research said so you don’t leave money on the table. If they ask this question in a phone screen, bump the range down a bit so you don’t get yourself screened out. You can always come up during the actual negotiation.

Once they have made an offer, ask for it in writing and ask for time to consider the offer. This buys you time and gives them time to worry about whether or not you will accept the offer. They might come back with more. Make sure that you know your complete, prioritized, ideal job offer and how negotiable you are on each item before you step back into the negotiation.

Interest-based negotiation

Listen closely to the needs that the employer is expressing and look for ways to meet both your needs and theirs. Together you are solving a problem. That’s at the heart of interest-based negotiation. Think of both of you being on the same side of the table, working together to meet both your needs and theirs. Absolutely avoid win-lose language. Win-Lose language would be things like “I absolutely need $10,000 more.” “I can’t live with that.” “You’re kidding right?” Collaborative language is “I really had in mind more than that, but I’m really excited about the opportunity. What can we do?” “My research showed that the range should be closer to X. How could we work toward something like that? Where is there some flexibility within the offer?” Always leave them feeling as if they have been treated well by you throughout the process. Show them the type of person they would be working with.

Angela Hayes, Associate Director of Alumni and Online Career Engagement

ANGELA HAYES serves as the Associate Director of Alumni and Online Career Engagement. Prior to coming to CSU, she worked as the Assistant Director of Alumni and Graduate Student Career Services at Kansas State University. She has a B.S. in psychology, an M.S. in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. in professional coaching and human development. She’s a nationally Board Certified Coach and a nationally Certified Health and Wellness Coach.

She has a passion for helping others to see their lives as full of possibilities and un-tapped potential. She views changes/transitions (both planned and unplanned) as opportunities for individuals to discover and plan out what they really want from their careers and lives.