Student shaking hands with employer

Salary Negotiation

Getting a job offer can feel like crossing the job search finish line, but before you accept an offer and do a victory lap, it's important to remember a job offer is more than just the salary. Make sure to evaluate all aspects of salary, benefits, and work/life balance before making a decision.  

Know your own worth. 

  • Research the average salary for your job targets and try to find the industry's salary norms by looking for job postings with salaries, finding competitors' salaries, conducting informational interviews, and visiting company websites.
  • Evaluate your salary requirements based on how much do you need to earn and the cost of living in the job location?
  • Be realistic about your experience and skill level, and prepare your argument based on your skills with examples from your work and school experiences.
  • Develop a salary range with high, low, and middle expectations based on your research. 

    Once an offer is made... 

    • Let the employer make the first move; negotiate after an offer is made, but before you accept it.
    • Get the offer in writing so you can take your time to review it carefully; ask for clarification on anything you don't understand.
    • Refer back to the research you did on your worth.
    • Ask if the offer is negotiable. 

    Know what you may be able to negotiate. 

    Evaluate the entire package; even if the salary itself is non-negotiable, other fringe benefits might be, including: 

    • Start date
    • Vacation/sick/disability leave
    • Stock options
    • Relocation expenses
    • Tuition reimbursement
    • Professional memberships/conferences
    • Retirement plans
    • Signing bonuses 

    Finalize the process. 

    Listen for clues the offer is final.  

    • The recruiter or manager may say something like, "This is the best we can do," or "This is our final offer."
    • Stop when you get the sense the employer is becoming frustrated with your proposals. 

    Make it official. 

    • Finalize the agreement when you feel the offer is fair and within a range you can accept.
    • Accept or decline the offer both verbally and in writing. 

    Stop your search once you accept an offer. 

    • You should not continue to pursue other employment opportunities, regardless of where you are in the search process for other positions, once you have accepted a position.
    • Contact other companies and close any outstanding applications.
    • Don't accept additonal interviews.