How Can I Negotiate a Salary Offer?

Salary can often be an important factor in applying for and accepting a job. Use these tips to negotiate a salary that will meet your needs as an employee.

How to Negotiate a Salary Offer

Negotiating the salary offer when you first get a job is extremely important. Raises will almost never catch you up to a coworker who started with a better salary offer. There are several important things to do and points to keep in mind as you get ready to negotiate a salary offer. Preparation is one key. Confidence is another. Even if you don't get the salary you want, you can negotiate other benefits.

Preparing to Negotiate a Salary Offer

Keep the Negotiating Advantage

Do not give the employer an advantage in your negotiations. Don't put salary history on your resume. Doubly, do not put false compensation information on it; you will be found out quickly.

Do Some Research

If you have a contact inside the organization who can tell you what the job should pay, that's perfect. Otherwise, visit Salary.com, PayScale.com or the website for your field's professional association to see what employers in your area are paying. Another resource that could help is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which provides national median and mean salary data, along with state and city-specific salary information for many careers.

Consider Trade-offs

What matters to you as much or more than your salary? Would you choose to take performance bonuses, extra vacation time, flexible working hours, more comprehensive insurance or a better retirement package? Employers may offer these perks if they cannot offer a higher salary. Know what your needs are. Think about which of these you are willing to accept, or even suggest, in lieu of more cash.

Negotiating the Salary Offer

Don't Settle

If they've offered you the job, they want you. Don't settle for the first salary offer - be prepared to ask for something better.

Focus on Your Value

Negotiate your salary offer based on your value to the employer, not your own financial situation. Don't say, 'I need to make $X...' The employer doesn't want to hear about your student loans or mortgage.

Don't Rush

Put the discussion off until you're ready. If asked, suggest that you need to know more about the job responsibilities, resources available to you, etc. If the employer insists on knowing your salary expectations as early as the application, you can try saying 'a competitive salary and benefits package,' or you can state a salary based on your research.

Be Flexible if Necessary

If the salary is set below where you'd like it, change direction. Open the subject of other benefits.

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