Salary Negotiation

Receiving a job offer is a rewarding part of the job search process, but it is not the end of the process. Being prepared to engage in negotiation is an important aspect of the job search process. There are some stages of the process that are important to consider.

Stages of Salary Negotiation

Stage 1: Before the offer

Do your research by finding out what similar positions at that company or similar companies within your market pay. Websites such as and serve as resources to get information on salaries. Talking to people who work in similar positions is also useful. You’ll also want to make sure you create your ideal budget, considering details such as cost of living, your long-terms goals, and your lifestyle. This will be your guide to identifying your ideal salary range and will be extremely useful during the negotiation process. Negotiation happens after a job offer has been presented and not before, so while you will prepare for the negotiation before the offer, try not to approach salary conversations until an offer has been presented. At times, the interviewer may broach the subject during the interview. Do not feel pressured to begin negotiations at that time. Instead, steer the conversation back to the purpose of the interview, which is for you to learn more about the position and to share why you are the most suitable candidate. Know exactly what you will say if asked about salary and practice it. An appropriate response would be: “I am sure that if I am the successful candidate, we will be able to agree on a compensation package that reflects the market and my skills.” If still pressed, you may use your preparation to provide a range.

Stage 2: Getting the offer

This is an exciting step. When you receive the job offer, whether verbally or in writing, thank the employer. It will also be critical for you to request time to carefully review the offer. Two – five business days is a reasonable amount of time for you to review the offer and benefits, consider it against your budget and needs, and determine whether you will make a counteroffer. Even if the amount presented is higher than what you have set as your ideal based on your budget, you still want to take the time to carefully review the offer. Ensure that you receive the offer in writing and that all the particulars are included.

Stage 3: Evaluating the offer

Spend time reviewing the offer against your needs and goals. If you have other offers on the table, you’ll also want to evaluate them against each other. Know your worth and consider what makes you uniquely qualified for the position. You will want to have rationale to back up your requests if you decide to make a counteroffer. Do not take this time spent to evaluate your offer lightly.

Stage 4: Negotiating the offer

Based on your evaluation of the offer, prepare your counteroffer and final offer. Negotiating may take a few rounds of counteroffers, so be prepared for that. Remember that you may also negotiate your benefits and should have done that during your evaluation period. This is a time to be patient, professional and positive. You do not want to appear greedy, but you also want to ensure that you do not sell yourself short. It is helpful to practice negotiation in person in the event that any parts of your negotiations take place over the phone or in person. Create scripts for yourself for both verbal and written negotiation communication and practice them with someone else. This helps to build your confidence and leave little room for error and miscommunication.

Stage 5a: Accepting the offer

If your negotiation is successful and you have reached an agreement with the employer and you have received the updated terms in writing, you will want to officially accept the offer. Ensure that you maintain integrity during this process. Do not accept an offer if you plan to continue your job search or are planning to entertain offers from other positions for which you’ve applied or interviewed.

Stage 5b: Rejecting the offer

There may be times that, at the end of negotiations, the terms of the offer do not meet your needs. Do not feel pressured to say yes. If you decide to reject the offer, be sure to remain professional and positive and provide an official response to the offer in writing. You’ll want to leave the door open to any future opportunities and to maintain your professional integrity.

Salary Negotiation To-dos

  • Do your research
  • Know your worth
  • You may negotiate salary as well as benefits
  • Be patient, positive and professional
  • Ask questions
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away if the position does not meet the majority of your needs

Salary websites

NACE Salary Calculator
Salary Expert Salary Center

Download the Salary Negotiation Guide