crop380w_istock_000003608048xsmallSalary negotiation is an important step of the job hunt, especially for recent college graduates – your very first salary sets the bar for your salary for the rest of your career. It’s important to know how to successfully navigate salary negotiation so that you can set your bar at a reasonable level.

The whole process might feel uncomfortable, especially since negotiation isn’t really a big part of our culture like it is in other countries, but just keep in mind that salary negotiation is a normal part of the process. Just be confident and prepare beforehand, realizing that the employer is probably going to start low and expect you to negotiate.

The first thing you should do is figure out the minimum amount you need for living costs: food, rent, transportation, etc. This should be your baseline and while it typically doesn’t directly factor into your negotiations, it’s good to know just for the sake of awareness. Then, do some research on your job and what a typical salary range for your position would be. A good resource for this is the NACE Salary Calculator.  This salary range is what you’ll base your salary negotiations on, to make sure you’re receiving at least the market rate based on your position and experience. Come up with your “magic number”, aka your ideal salary that you aim to negotiate towards. It might even be a good idea to bring a hard copy of your research and your salary request to the meeting with the employer.

You should avoid mentioning salary and compensation before receiving an actual job offer, that’s jumping the gun a bit. If the recruiter brings it up prematurely, try to smoothly change the subject to further discussing your qualifications. Once you receive a job offer with an initial salary offer, present your salary research and request. If the employer can’t or won’t meet your magic number, explore the possibility of non-cash compensation to bridge the gap, such as vacation time or benefits. Give them time to think about your counteroffer, they might have to consult with their higher-ups or decide if they even have the budget for your counteroffer. If your counteroffer gets rejected, don’t be disappointed; talk with the employer about what you can do in terms of performance to assure an increase later, or if it’s really a problem then it might be best to politely reject the offer and try again elsewhere.

Lastly, you can always make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss salary negotiation and get deeper into the etiquette and details of the process. Good luck!


Posted by Deirdre Newton, Career Services Assistant