Undergraduate Career Services Office

Salary Negotiations

Know your worth

Know the market value for your skills by researching salary ranges for the desired position and industry. There are several websites that offer salary information:

Assess your financial situation

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the lowest salary I can accept?
  • What costs will I have once I complete my degree?

Utilizing a budget calculator can help paint a realistic picture of what you can and cannot afford.

When to address the salary question

Salary can be discussed at any point during the interview process; however, don’t be the first one to bring it up. When asked the salary question don’t say numbers rather be prepared to give a range, for example, “I am looking for something in the upper 40s to mid-50s. By researching the position and industry prior to your interview, you will feel more confident to give the employer a range of salary you believe you should earn. You could also use an open-ended statement, such as, “I am very interested in this position. What are you offering for a person with my qualifications?”

How to evaluate the offer

Most tend to only focus on the base salary; however there are several components to a potential offer. Here are a few things to consider when reviewing a compensation package:

  • Base salary
  • Bonus potential; sign-on bonus
  • Benefits: medical, dental, vision options
  • Retirement: 401(k), 403(b), stock options, pension
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Paid time off (PTO), sick, personal, and holiday time
  • Flex-time or work-from-home option
  • Average annual review earning potential

Some companies may offer a lower salary, but they may make up for it in other perks of the compensation package.

What to do when extended an offer

  • Express your enthusiasm
  • Do not accept on the spot
  • Ask for details in writing
  • Request time
  • Ask for a deadline
  • Avoid negative language

Tips for negotiating

  • Express to the employer the areas you wish to negotiate and explain why you are asking for an increase in a particular benefit or have an additional benefit added to your offer
  • Know market value for the industry with someone with your skills
  • Stay professional and maintain a proper attitude
  • Continue to sell yourself
  • Leverage past co-op/internship and professional work experience in your favor
  • Ask for a fair price, but let the employer win too

How to decline an offer

The worst thing you can do is to accept a position and/or salary that are not the right fit for you. When declining an offer, be honest, but not rude. First, thank the recruiter for their time and help during the interview process – you never want to burn bridges. Tell the employer it was a difficult decision and say something positive about the company, but after you weighted your options (don’t state only the salary) you have to politely decline the offer. This shows that you put thought into your decision.