Salary Negotiations

Reasons Why You May Not Be Prepared To Negotiate

  • You do not know what your skills/experience are worth
  • You fail to conduct basic salary research
  • You have no plan to effectively negotiate a salary
  • You believe what employers tell you about salary
  • You say the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • You fail to consistently communicate your value in cover letter, resume, and interviews

Sites with Salary Information

Don't know what salary to expect? Use one of the following links to find out how much you might be getting paid.

  • NACE Salary Calculator  The National Association of Colleges and Employers offers the most accurate compensation data available.
  • gives you a free look at company salaries, reviews and interview questions at over 27,000 companies.
  • is the technology leader in providing employee compensation data, software, and services to enterprises, small businesses, and individuals. The website is one of the most widely recognized destinations for those seeking reliable information about employee pay levels and compensation-related best practices, trends, and policies.
  • Payscale  is one of the leading free resources for region-based salary calculations
  • Career Bliss  The page provides salaries, review, jobs, and career advice.
  • Career Overview- Salary & Wages  The page provides a comprehensive list of the average salaries and wages for the top career fields in the United States. The data supplied in this section is updated regularly so please come back to check for the most current figures.
  • JobStar Salary Surveys  JobStar's Salary Surveys provides links and descriptions of 300+ salary surveys or summaries a mouse click away. The surveys come from several kinds of sources. You'll want to evaluate the information in terms of currency, geographic coverage and application to your own situation.
  • RileyGuide: Salary Guides & Guidance  Finding salary information to help you make a decision or negotiate for better pay is not easy. There's the problem of finding up-to-date and reliable data for your situation. Then there's the problem of deciding if the data you are looking at is relevant to your situation. Finally, you have to know how to use the information you've found wisely in negotiations, should that mean asking for a raise or asking for a different (usually better) compensation package when accepting a new job.
  • CareerOneStop - Labor Market Information  Finding a new job? Hiring new employees? Getting ahead in your career? It all starts right here! This is your gateway to job listings, resumes, and career information nationwide -- the biggest and best collection of free employment and career resources on the Internet.
  • U.S. Department of Labor- Occupational Outlook Handbook  The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a nationally recognized source of career information, designed to provide valuable assistance to individuals making decisions about their future work lives. Revised every two years, the Handbook describes what workers do on the job, working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings, and expected job prospects in a wide range of occupations.

Tips on Negotiating Salary

  • Maintain the Proper Attitude  Be sure to be enthusiastic, polite and professional. This is not a competition. If you are too pushy or you adopt a “Take it, or leave it” attitude, they may think you’re not interested in the position.
  • Continue Selling Yourself  Make sure to remind the employer of your worth throughout the process. Confidence is extremely important. If you appear nervous while talking salary, it is apparent that you are not completely sure you deserve what you are asking for. Silence is another important weapon in creating this image. When you make a salary request, do not go on and on stating why it is justified, make your request short, with a simple explanation on the validity.
  • Start High and Work Toward A Middle Ground  Ask for more than you think the employer will pay. This will show them how highly you value your ability. Prepare your reasoning for your salary request by doing research on, et al.
  • Ask a Fair Price  Be sure that your requests are reasonable.
  • Be Willing to Walk Away  Obviously, the less you want the job the easier it is to negotiate. Desperation loses money.
  • Arm Yourself with Information  Not only salary surveys but employer’s pay policy will also be useful. For example, does the company use a salary-grade structure or do they have a firm rule on salary negotiations? Do they pay higher or lower salaries than their competitors?
  • Timing Is Everything  When the employer has offered you the job, you have more negotiating advantage, because you know the employer feels you can be an asset to the company.

The Do Not’s, Don’t Forget To’s and the Blunders

Do Not:

  • ...specify an exact salary figure when asked
  • ...under-value your worth
  • salary figures over the phone
  • to assess the employer’s needs
  • ...lie about your past salary
  • ...always believe what an employer says about salary
  • ...discuss salary until you have details on the job, usually at the very end
  • ...discuss salary until the position has been offered to you
  • to compile support information for your negotiation
  • ...appear desperate for any offer

Don’t Forget To:

  • ...demonstrate your value
  • ...postpone salary talk until you have had time to sell yourself
  • ...take some notes during a salary negotiation
  • ...research the Industry Standard for the salary of the position you’re applying for
  • ...ask for a day or two to decide on an offer; if they refuse, this many not be the right company for you
  • ...ask for a salary proposal in writing if you accept the position
  • ...ask for a performance review after three months


  • Politeness loses $$$  “The offer is really too low, but if I say anything I may lose the offer.”
  • Modesty loses raises  “A raise would’ve been nice to go with that promotion, but at least it was nice of them to notice how hard I work and promote me. Who knows, maybe they’ll give me a raise when they see how good I will do in this job.”
  • Being overly flattered loses $$$  “Really, you want to hire me just like that. I am so happy and flattered that you think I’m the one for the job.”

How to Write A Salary Proposal

A salary proposal is presented to an employer when an offer is made that is below what you need to accept. You can say “appreciate the offer, but would like to call one last meeting before you accept, to discuss a few other issues". It can also be presented to a boss or manager when trying to obtain a salary increase.

What to Include
All salary proposals should be one to two pages. They will all be different and should be prepared creatively depending on your situation. On the other hand, there are a few things you will want to include to ensure a successful marketing piece:

  • Name, address, phone, e-mail and date in a professional heading on the top of the page
  • The duties and responsibilities for the position, and what you have done in the past that makes you capable of successfully carrying out these duties and responsibilities.
  • Your duties described at time of hire, and your salary promised for those duties, along with your actual duties and the salary range you want to be within (salary increase.)
  • A few salary ranges or figures you have researched, that show you are not being paid fairly for this position compared to what other companies are paying for those skills. For example: Choose a listing that might have similar duties to your position and include the salary. Then show what you are doing beyond that point or what additional duties you would be doing in the position. Logically, the more duties and competencies, the more money. The position should at least pay higher than the listing.
  • Other skills, education, certificates, experience or specialized knowledge you have.

Calculating A Salary Range

Look at Resources

  • Books
  • Internet
  • Talk to friends
  • Talk to someone in the field
  • Conduct an informal survey
  • Contact professional associations

When stating a salary range, use the top of the market value range or the range the employer states. For example, if the range is from $40,000-53,000 extend the range approximately $5,000 above. This keeps you within their price range but shows you are interested in somewhat more compensation.

If the employer is offering you $42,000 and you want $46,000, try saying you want $48,000. By overstating the figure the employer is more likely to get closer to what you actually want.

Decide what the minimum amount of compensation is (be realistic) that you will make you truly satisfied- and do not accept less! There is no point in accepting an offer if you think you’ll be unsatisfied and end up looking for another position in the near future. If the employer refuses this amount, it is to your advantage to keep looking.

Salary Information/Surveys Online

Salary Information/Surveys

Other ways to find salary figures (Books & Agencies)

  • American Salaries and Wages Annual Survey, Gale Research
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Encyclopedia of Associations (Look under your industry, contact associations for salary statistics)
  • Ask a business librarian where to find above resources
  • Come visit Career Services!

The Appropriate Time to Talk About Salary

Use the interview wisely to get the employer to get the employer to recognizes the value you will bring to the company.

  • Divert all salary talk until you’ve had a chance to state your strongest abilities and ideas.
  • Make sure you recognize what you will bring to the company

DO Discuss Salary:

  • ... after an offer is made
  • ...after a salary range has been given

DON’T Discuss Salary

  • ...on Your Resume
  • ...on Your First Interview
  • ...on Your Second Interview - Unless an offer is made
  • ...on the Phone

How to Divert Salary back to the Employer:

  • “Well, let’s see....(pause)...Well, I’m sure (company name) offers fair salaries, what did you have in mind?”
  • “I have some idea of the market value, but for a moment let’s start with your range for this position.”
  • “Well I have an idea of the general market rate, but being that this job encompasses additional responsibilities, I’m sure you have a better idea of what its worth. What range did you have projected for this position?”
  • “I’m paid fairly for my responsibilities in my present job, and I expect a fair salary with respect to my responsibilities here. What did you have in mind for this position?”
  • “Well, when it comes to salary I’m firm in one point, I have absolutely no upper limits. Now, what did you have in mind”

How to Postpone Salary Talk:

  • “I’m sure we can come to a good salary agreement when the time comes, for now I’d like to tell you more about my strengths for this job.”
  • “Why don’t we keep talking to make sure I’m the right person for you, before we get sidetracked on money issues. (If offer is made) What did you have in mind?”
  • “I’m looking for the right opportunity and while salary is important, the position and company are more important. I am sure you will be fair with your offer and I also have some flexibility.”
  • “Don’t worry about salary; I know I need to make you more than I cost, and I’m sure I will. But before we get into that, let’s make sure I’m the right fit.”
  • “Well, compensation is about number three on my priorities right now. Number one is making sure we can work together, and I’d just as soon concentrate on that for now, if you don’t mind.”
  • “I’m not too interested in discussing salary right now. First, let’s make sure our goals match up. Then if we need to talk salary figures, we’ll have something to go on."

What Can I Say If...

  • The employer asks you what you were making?  First use the suggestions given to postpone salary talk. If that does not work you might state a broad range. “My salary range was between $65,000 and $80,000”.
  • The employers offers a salary below your range?  "I am very excited about being a part of your team, but according to my research, the salary is below the industry standard. Would your budget permit $45,000 instead of $40,000?”
  • You decide not to take the position because the salary is too low but still want to keep them as a contact?  “Although I understand your salary limitations I believe it would be unfair to both of us for me to accept this position. I would like to stress though, that I think we would work well together and I do like the company. If another position becomes available with a salary more in line with the market, I do hope you will consider me.”

How to Get a Raise

Getting a raise can be a matter of proving you are an asset to a company. Many employees will insist that their company realizes the value they bring to the organization, but this alone will not prove effective. The following is a list of things to start doing when attempting to ask for a raise.

  • Start Documenting Your Results.  Start keeping taps on a daily basis of your accomplishments. This includes email messages, phone messages, and written proof that you are doing a great job. Try to document results a month before your request a meeting with your supervisor.
  • Do Some Research on Positions Similar to Yours.  Using library resources and the internet try to find a salary surveys that match your skills and put together a brief report to present to your employer. Show them what you are really worth. You can also cut out ads that include salary.
  • Outline Reasons for Wanting A Raise.  Is it due to the fact you have not received a raise in 2 years. Have your job responsibilities increased. Are you attempting to purchase your first home. Let your employer thoroughly understand your position.
  • Write Out Ways You Plan to Improve.  Whether it is a personal, departmental, or a company improvement let them know that your thinking of ways to assist and improve what you are already doing. After you have written out the information and put it together in a brief report or in a nice portfolio (2-5 pages) you are ready to contact them. You can do this by setting up a meeting, writing a letter, or by email. The letter should not have detailed information. It should be concise and focus on setting a meeting to discuss a personal issue.
  • Get Your Boss to Acknowledge Your Results.  Keep your boss informed of every success you have. Inform your boss after implementing any suggestions given to you. Ask your boss every 3-6 months how they think you are doing (record it). Write your accomplishments on your reviews.

How to Get a Bonus

  • Ask For One.  It sounds simple, but it’s the best way for you to get a bonus. Approach your boss now, tell him/her you want a bonus, and you’d like to map out a plan for you to get one. Together you can develop goals against which you will measure your effectiveness. Agree that by the end of the year if you have met your goals you will receive your bonus. Be sure to discuss the bonus structure and document the points of your agreement in writing.
  • Show Initiative.  Don’t wait for your boss to tell you what to do all the time. Take the initiative. Apply your professional experiences and knowledge to your position, simplify your boss’s job or suggest an idea to improve a process for the company. Show your boss that you are not only a go-getter, but a thinker too.
  • Be Valuable.  Take on extra projects or responsibilities that may or may not be in your job scope. Help other departments when they need an extra hand. And simply learn and grow in your job. Show that you’re an asset to the job, to your boss and the company, and that’s why you deserve this bonus.
  • Document Your Successes.  Keep a weekly log documenting what projects you have completed, accomplishments and extra responsibilities you took on that week. That way when it comes time to discuss your bonus or ask for a bonus, you can show your boss exactly what successes and accomplishments you have made in your job.
  • Make Every Project Count.  Give 100% to all your projects, big or small. Sometimes the most unattractive projects end up being the ones that save the company thousands of dollars making