• Job Offers and Salary/Benefits Negotiation

    When you get a job, you’re signing up for far more than just a paycheck! When considering a position, take time to evaluate all aspects of it, including pay, benefits, work/life balance, work culture, and anything else that is important to you. Taking steps to research, review your offer, and negotiate can help you find a role that is a good fit and ensure that you receive what you are worth. The thought of negotiating your salary and benefits with an employer might seem intimidating at first, but it’s worth it! In fact, hiring managers actually expect new hires to negotiate their starting salaries. All it takes is some preparation and practice. Set up an appointment with the Career Development Center to talk through your research and negotiation prep by logging into Handshake or calling 651-523-2302. 

    Know Your Worth

    Research the average salary for your target job and industry by using the resources below. You can also find similar postings to compare salaries or conduct informational interviews with professionals in your area of interest to better understand starting salaries in the field. Develop a salary range with high, low, and middle expectations based on your research. Get to know your industry - while some fields have flexibility, public schools and government agencies, for example, tend to use pay tables to calculate starting salaries and may have less wiggle room.

    Determine your salary requirements based on your salary research, how much you need to earn (develop a budget!) and the cost of living. Use the resources below for reference. 

    Know your unique value. What aspects of your experience, skills, or education make you an “above-average” applicant? This will help you make the case for a higher salary or increased benefits. Make sure to tailor it to the specific position for which you are applying. For example:  

    • Have you worked in a highly related area?
    • Do you have technical/language/interpersonal skills that are highly valued in this field?
    • Have you already attended training or received certifications that make you especially well-prepared for this industry?
    • Can you begin work training earlier than other candidates might?  

    Your Compensation: What is Negotiable?

    A job offer doesn’t only include your base salary (what you get paid) - it can also include valuable benefits that may be offered by your company. Your total compensation is a combination of your base salary plus the value of benefits offered by your employer. Depending on the position and company, these benefits may include:

    • Health/vision/dental insurance
    • Vacation/sick/disability leave
    • Retirement plan
    • Life insurance
    • Relocation expenses
    • Professional development $$
    • Tuition reimbursement
    • Parking expenses
    • Bonuses and commissions

    Consider which benefits are important to you as you review your job offer, and prioritize them: some of these benefits are negotiable while others may not be. Salary is often the #1 priority for negotiation, but make sure you have a back-up plan in place! For example, if they can’t move on salary now, you could ask to reevaluate your salary after your first 6 months, or during your first performance review. If a salary increase is unavailable, you could ask for extra vacation days instead, or see if you can have your moving expenses covered. If you do not plan to use a specific benefit, you could ask for another in its place or for monetary compensation. It may not be an option but it doesn’t hurt to ask!

    Review the Offer Carefully

    Ask for your offer in writing and take time to review it. You do not need to accept an offer immediately, and you should never accept an offer before seeing it in writing. Asking for some time (a few days/a week, until Friday) is acceptable, though the employer may ask that you respond within a specific timeframe. As you review your offer, make note of your questions so you can ask for clarification when meeting with your employer contact.

    When & How to Negotiate

    If the employer asks about your salary requirements/expectations before a job offer has been made, you could first ask “What is the range for this position?” If they are unable to share this information, provide a range based on your research.

    Negotiate after an offer is made, and before you accept it.  

    1. Request a phone, video, or in-person conversation with your employer contact to discuss the offer and get your questions answered.
    2. Start by showing enthusiasm and appreciation for the offer, and then ask clarifying questions about the role and benefits package. Lead with these questions instead of immediately jumping into negotiation. Based on their answers, you may determine whether you would like to prioritize negotiating salary or other benefits.
    3. Don’t mention personal reasons (finances, saving up for grad school, debt, etc.) - keep the conversation about the value you bring. Back your ask with hard evidence.
    4. Don’t interrupt; give the employer time to respond.
    5. End on a light, friendly note.
    6. Always get the negotiated salary or benefits in writing, and take at least 24 hours to review before signing/accepting the final offer.

    Continue to convey confidence throughout your negotiation process. Remember - you would not have gotten this far if they weren’t interested in you! Tell the company how you will benefit them throughout the negotiation conversation.

    What A Negotiation Might Sound Like


    Q: “What are you looking to make? What are your salary expectations?”
    A: "Based on my research, I would imagine that would include a salary somewhere in the range between $__,000 to $__,000 (or $__-$__ per hr), but I'd like to consider all aspects of an offer, not just salary. Does this align to your budget?”

    IF NO, “Can you help me understand where we might be misaligned?”


    "I’m really excited to work here, and I know that I will bring a lot of value. I appreciate the offer at $_____ . Based on my research and my qualifications, I was hoping to start at $_______. (Make a case for yourself here.) Can we look at a salary of $____ for this position?"

    IF NO, "Would there be an opportunity to grow to $_____ after my 6-month performance review?"

    OR leverage other benefits OR other offers

    Use the resources below to build up your negotiation skills and strategies! 

    The Career Development Center can help you research, prepare, and practice for your negotiation conversation. Set up an appointment by logging into Handshake or calling 651-523-2302.