When you receive a job offer, consider whether or not you wish to negotiate. The degree to which salary is negotiable typically depends on the role, the manager, the organization, the industry, and your percieved value. Keep in mind the following factors as you approach the negotiation process.

Choosing to Negotiate

Congratulations! Receiving an offer can be very exciting. When an offer is made, you do not need to give the employer a final answer immediately, but do acknowledge the offer. Make sure you do not accept or commit to the position verbally until you fully plan to accept that offer, as a verbal acceptance will be considered a commitment to that employer.

It is important to consider all facets of a job offer. Be cautious about evaluating an offer solely on its salary. Instead, ask yourself how this position fits into your long-term goals. Does the position provide the skills, training, and experience you are looking for?  How does it set you up for your next role? Review Evaluating Offers for a list of factors to consider.

If you are interested in the position but not satisfied with one or more aspects of the offer, you may choose to negotiate. Negotiation should be based on the value you bring to the company. (e.g., can you make a strong and specific objective case as to why you deserve more than the original offer?). Contact the person who made you the offer, reiterate your interest in the position, and explain your desire to negotiate. Be prepared to discuss your reasoning on the spot, or schedule a time to speak.

Learn more about the basics in Negotiating 101.

Preparation & Tips

  • Consider the company’s needs and wants. A successful argument on your part is one that highlights how giving you a better offer will benefit the other party.
  • Recognize that the company may have constraints on the salaries it can offer. If so, you may still be able to negotiate other parts of your package.
  • Recognize the monetary and non-monetary benefits of the non-salary aspects of your compensation, including health insurance and/or paid vacation time.
  • Consider who you are negotiating with. The person who will be your direct supervisor may have different goals than a human resources representative.
  • Practice being assertive, but considerate. Remember that if all goes well, you will be working for this company. Leaving a good impression in your negotiations will help you in the long run.
  • Not all companies will be willing to negotiate, but it is worth discussing options before accepting a position. Be prepared to compromise if necessary or to turn down the offer if the employer cannot meet your expectations. When negotiations are complete, be sure to get the final offer in writing.
  • If you are entering as part of a class of new hires there may be less or no room for negotiation. Mid to executive level candidates often have more leverage in negotiation, based on experience and skills.


The Negotiation

Approach negotiation with a collaborative, problem solving mindset. Express your enthusiasm about working for the company, and your genuine desire to come to a mutually agreeable solution. Have three numbers in mind:

  1. Your bottom line – the lowest amount that you will accept
  2. Your desired, reasonable salary – what you expect based on your research and conversations with people in the field. This is a good outcome, you feel this is fair and you will be satisfied   
  3. Your aspirational salary, the number you would be thrilled to get
  • Make your case by outlining what you bring to the role – experience, knowledge, skills, and any other qualities the team needs that you have. Your argument is about why you are a superb fit for their needs; it is not about your needs (e.g., money for student loans, rent).
  • Avoid qualifiers and boasting. Be aware of your audience; adjust your tone and argument if necessary.
    • Qualifiers undermine your argument (“I just want to ask if…” or “I think I might be worth…”). If you are not feeling confident, talk to advisors, friends, or a CCE career counselor to practice what to say and how to highlight the value you bring. Remind yourself that they want to hire you and have agreed to discuss the offer.
    • Boasting can be a turn off. When explaining why you are a superior candidate do not put down the average candidate – focus on what you bring, not what others lack. You don’t need to boast to explain why you are qualified.
  • Request what is important to you – salary, title, flex time, telecommuting, training, work space in an office/cubicle, opportunities to work on projects to develop specific skills – but don’t ask for everything. Focus on the 1-3 that really matter. Include all of them in an organized negotiation pitch.
  • Keep your tone positive, pleasant and straightforward:
    • “My research in the industry shows that people in this type of role with my abc (experience, skills etc.) generally make from $x to $y” 
    • “I understand your starting salary is usually z for an entry level hire, given my abc I would expect from $x to $y”
  • Stop talking. After making the case of why you are highly qualified and proposing a salary, stop. If you say more, you are likely to weaken your argument.
  • Listen to any counter-arguments, and respond. Acknowledge the company’s constraints; reiterate your worth and what problems you can solve for them once hired. Depending on the conversation, you may agree to a lower number or propose something in between, or move onto another item. If they cannot meet your salary request, you might ask what they can do.
  • Rehearse. Practice with friends, family, colleagues or a CCE career counselor.


Ethical Considerations

Only negotiate with an employer whose offer you plan to accept if the negotiation goes well. It is unethical to negotiate with an employer whose offer you have no intent to accept even if your preferred terms are met. If you reach an acceptable compromise, it is assumed that you will accept the position. Once you have accepted an offer, it is unethical to continue interviewing with other employers. If you are interviewing with other organizations, contact them to respectfully let them know that you have accepted an offer and are withdrawing from their process.

Multiple Offers

You can use one offer to help leverage a higher salary with another organization. Some people will bring a higher offer to their current employer to see if it can be matched, but be wary of this unless you are completely ready to leave the role. If you have two offers you can use the higher offer at your less preferred organization to negotiate increased salary at your preferred organization. As these situations can be complex, however, we encourage you to make an appointment with a career counselor or stop by our Quick Question sessions (current students only) if you would like assistance with this process.

Additional Resources for Salary Range Research & Negotiation