Salary Negotiation


When to discuss salary

It’s absolutely appropriate, and preferable, to begin discussing salary and benefits AFTER you’ve been offered a position. However, some employers may ask for your salary requirements early on in the process in order to screen candidates.

There are multiple ways to tackle this depending on the situation. It's best if the employer names a figure first. Otherwise, you run the risk of naming a figure lower than what they were willing to pay or such a high amount that they don't move forward with you.

If they put you in the position of naming a salary first during an interview, you can:

  • Ask what their range is for this position. Let them know if that's within the range of what you are looking for, but try to avoid getting into a negotiation at this point. Negotiation should only happen after an offer is made.
  • Let them know that you will consider any reasonable amount should you be offered the position.
  • Redirect by telling them that you feel it's premature to be discussing salary this early in the process and that you'd love to talk more about the details of the position.
  • Answer the question if you'd like. It's best to provide a range based on your salary research (see below).

Determine What You Need

Add up how much money you need to live on to cover your expenses including bills (don’t forget about those student loans!), food and play money. This is your bottom line - the lowest salary you can reasonably accept.

Investigate what you're worth

Your “fair market value” is based on how much other people are being paid in your location and industry with similar skills, experience, and education. You can research this on websites like,, and It will show you a low, middle, and high amount. Aim for the middle value in your negotiations.


About half of all job seekers accept the first offer without negotiating. This is unfortunate; the majority of employers will not give you their best offer initially because they are expecting you to negotiate. There are exceptions to this such as in government, retail, or any employer that tells you they've given you their best offer, but generally speaking, you can come back with a reasonably higher counter offer.

One way you can start the conversation is by asking "Is this negotiable?" when they give you the offer. For assistance with how to further navigate the nuances of the negotiation, please make an appointment with a Career Advisor.

Remember that your counteroffer can include more than just base pay; it can include bonuses, stock options, vacation time, and a flexible working schedule.

But be careful; don’t make demands or issue ultimatums unless you really are willing to walk away from the existing offer.

Accept or Decline

Generally, you shouldn’t wait longer than a week to get back to the employer with your answer.

Additional Advice

For more detailed strategies, guidance on your unique situation, negotiating raises, severance pay, understanding your offer, and weighing multiple offers, please make an appointment with a Career Advisor.