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Negotiate Your Salary

Negotiating your salary is a two-way street. It's important to come to a win-win solution since it can set the tone for your work life with the future employer. But wait until after you receive a job offer to start talking about salary. Everyone approaches the process differently. Use the tips below that you're most comfortable with.

Evaluate the Offer Wisely

  • Identify the salary you can reasonably expect for the type of position. A networking contact at the company may be helpful in determining this.
  • Identify your own salary needs according to your household budget.
  • Consider the job offer in terms of your long-term career goals, the work environment, and the benefits. Talk it over with someone you respect. Make a list of the pros and cons of the job offer.
  • Remember that salary is only one part of job compensation. Often better benefits — like flexible schedules or excellent health insurance — make up for a lower salary.
  • Make sure the job description is clear. Note your reporting relationships, authority, and advancement potential.

Communicate Effectively

  • If you are uncertain if you want the job, state that you would like to discuss some items before you can accept the job. Suggest meeting again to talk about the offer.
  • Listen carefully. If the offer is less than you expected, let them know that. State you are still interested in the position if they want to reconsider their offer.
  • Begin the negotiation with reasonable requests. Be willing to accept compromises like receiving additional benefits in place of a higher salary. These could include tuition help, training, more vacation time, a flexible schedule, stock options, a company car, onsite daycare, parking privileges, etc.
  • Negotiations should never become emotional or hostile. Use your value, skills, experience, and education to negotiate. Do not use your need for the job to negotiate.

Understand the Rules of the Game

  • Don't assume the first offer is fixed. Even if the interviewer tells you it is, it rarely is.
  • If the same figure is offered a couple days later, it probably is the last offer. In that case, you can ask for a salary review in six months. Or you can turn the job down, asking that they keep you in mind for future openings paying more money. If you do this, remember not to burn bridges. You never know what might happen.
  • Even when saying "no," leave the door open to negotiation. (Don't use this as a trick to negotiate a higher wage. When you say "no," be ready to lose the job forever.)
  • When you reach an agreement, request the agreement in writing. Review it carefully.


Department of Labor CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor,
Employment and Training Administration