Career Corner: Negotiating your salary

Career Corner: Negotiating your salary


Negotiating your salary with your new employer feels like playing a game of Minesweeper; you do not know how to avoid stepping on a mine. Will you lose the job before you even get it? Are you allowed to negotiate? Will your employer think you are greedy? The answer to all of this is no. In fact, negotiating is normal and sometimes welcomed. So, no, you will not blow your leg off while asking for a higher salary.

“The older you are and the longer you’ve been in the workforce makes you more likely to negotiate than younger people,” said Kelly Jenkins, Career Advisor. “Younger people are sometimes just grateful to be given a job opportunity.”

People think they will lose the opportunity for negotiating, but the most that will happen is a refusal or a counter offer. “Interviewing is costly, and if they found the right person, they’re not going to take away the offer,” said Jenkins.

Certain positions are going to expect you to negotiate; say, a business-related job like sales. Since salespeople are known for bargaining, accepting your initial salary without discussion can work against you.

“If you don’t, some are going to be happy, because they can get away with not paying you as much,” said Teri Stebbins, Career Advisor. And some positions have a fixed salary, so there is no room for negotiations. Depending on the job, every salary situation is different.

It is always a good idea to benchmark your salary beforehand. Benchmarking helps you determine the right job title and a reasonable salary target. Have a target that is a little higher than the offered salary and a minimum target which still covers your bills. So, while your initial salary request may be rejected, you can still work towards that minimum budget.

Researching market conditions, like competition or what affects your field, can help you benchmark. Sites like Glassdoor or are good resources.

Another important thing to know is when you can begin negotiating. Always do it after the offer has been extended and before you accept the job. “They’re going to extend an offer to you, so you can’t say ‘I accept’ and then negotiate,” said Jenkins. “And you should never discuss money or benefits in the interview itself, before the offer comes,” added Stebbins.

While negotiating, stand your ground while being positive and flexible. Try not to let emotion play into your argument and use facts from your research to strengthen your points. Keep in mind that your employer should be satisfied with the outcome as well, so try to come up with a win-win solution. Asking for some time to work out a solution is fine too.

After an offer, move towards negotiating your benefits, such as monetary, near-monetary and non-monetary benefits. Bonuses, medical insurance, vacation time and travel assignments are a few examples.

While salary negotiating is a part of the hiring process, people are hesitant to ask for a salary that is worth the position. Bottom line, you need to be comfortable with being persistent.