Salary negotiation can be a challenging conversation. Review the steps below to understand how to navigate this final step in the hiring process. Practice is key to feeling confident approaching the employer, so consider scheduling an appointment with Career Services to best prepare.
What salary should I expect?
Determining your salary requirements and earning potential is part of the job search process. This knowledge will be useful for the interview and job offer processes as well. Every position has a general salary range, based on what professionals in that position are currently earning. However, many factors affect salaries.
Factors that may impact salaries:
- Type of position/field/industry
- State of the economy (national, regional, and local)
- Geographic location
Some positions have a fixed salary or salary structure, such as positions working with the federal or state government. The salary for that position may be publicly accessible online, and may not have any or as much room to negotiate.
O*NET - provides a general range of salary expectations based on job titles and also allows you to compare Louisiana salaries to national averages
Benefits: Go Beyond Salary
When negotiating salary, go beyond annual salary. Many employers offer benefits as part of the compensation package such as paid time off, company vehicle allowance, flexible work hours, remote work, starting bonuses, relocation stipend, and tuition reimbursement. It’s helpful to determine what benefits are important to you. Starting with 7 days of paid time off (PTO) can provide work-life balance and time to accumulate more PTO. Relocation reimbursement or financing can open the opportunity to move to a new city by reducing the initial costs. Write down the 2-3 benefits that are most valuable to you.
How much money do I need?
Calculating how much you’ll need to live for one year can help you get a realistic idea of how to evaluate salaries as a new professional. Using a tool like NerdWallet’s Cost of Living Calculator can give you an estimated cost of living for a new city. Add any student loan payments or other fixed costs you anticipate.
Look for discrepancies between your cost of living and salary expectations. If your cost of living is $40,000 annually and your research says you can expect a salary from $45,000 - $52,000, you can anticipate that most jobs should offer you at or above your required living expenses. However, if your cost of living is $50,000 annually and your research says you can expect a salary from $35,000 - $45,000, you may need to reevaluate.
Revisit your estimated cost of living; are there any costs that are not mandatory? Are there other similar positions that would pay more money and align with your skills and education? Can you find a similar position for a company that will pay more? Research to find the answers to these questions online and by asking professionals in your industry.
When do I negotiate?
Conversations about salary expectations can begin as early as the application or during the interview process. It’s not recommended to bring up salary during the interview, and whenever possible, defer discussing salary until an offer has been made. This is to ensure that you have time to promote your qualifications and evaluate your fit for the job. Your goal is to persuade the employer that you are an excellent candidate who deserves a competitive offer!
How to defer during . . .
The application process: leave this section blank when possible. If required, put a salary range based on your
The interview process: avoid answering this question by tactfully redirecting the conversation. For example:
“I’m happy to talk about salary later on in the process after you’ve had a chance to determine what I can bring to this position and I’ve had time to learn more about this organization and role.”
If you get pressed to answer, you can offer the salary range based on your research.
After you receive an offer . . .
Once you’ve received a written offer, it’s time to evaluate the offer. Does the offer meet the salary expectations based on the research you completed? If not, it may be time to negotiate. Ask the individual who extended the offer to schedule a time to have a brief phone conversation about the offer.
How do I say it?
Knowing and articulating your value are the first steps in the salary negotiation conversation. Base your request for a higher salary around the skills and accomplishments you bring to the job and your salary research. Write down the main points to make your phone conversation easier.
Start it off: express your excitement and gratitude for receiving the offer.
“I just wanted to say thank you again for extending this offer. XYZ Company seems like it has a positive, innovative culture, and I’ve enjoyed speaking with everyone in the interview process.”
Explain your value: summarize 1-2 big accomplishments that align with the job description and company.
“My digital organization at my internship, creating ABC process on 123 software, expedited client follow-up by 15%, and staff reported feeling more efficient. I want to bring innovative ideas to support the XYZ Company team in this position.”
Make the ask: you have two options here to make the ask; choosing depends on your personality and the situation. Option 1 is great if you want to dive right in and feel confident that the salary isn’t fixed. Option 2 works well if you want to ease into asking or you are unsure if the salary is negotiable.
“Based on my experience and after reviewing market research for this position in this city, I’m looking for a salary closer to $50-55,000.”
“Based on my experience, I’d like to discuss the compensation offered in the position. Is this salary open to negotiation?”
Anticipate the next steps: if salary negotiation is not an option or is immediately shut down, decide before the conversation what your next move will be. This can be a good time to discuss benefits beyond salary. Inquire about flexibility with your 2-3 most important benefits.
“It sounds like this position has a fixed salary. Can we discuss flexible work hours and the potential for remote work in this position?”
Get it in writing: once you’ve negotiated, request that the written offer be revised. This is to ensure that you get an official, new offer that contains the updated salary and/or benefits.
“Thank you so much for your flexibility and willingness to bring the offer up to $49,000. I’m looking forward to seeing the updated written offer.”
If nothing changes: if negotiations don’t provide your desired salary or new benefits, prepare what you’ll say next. It’s often helpful to request time to make a final decision, perhaps offering a timeline that gives you a few days to consider.
“Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about this offer. I would love to have some time to consider and discuss this in more detail over the next few days. What’s the best timeline to give you my response to the offer? Can I have the weekend to consider?”