Avoiding negotiation hurts - big time! 

For instance, if an employee received an average annual pay increase of 5% and their starting salary was $55,000 rather than $50,000, they would earn an additional $600,000+ over the course of a 40-year career.

Source: The Journal of Organizational Behavior

Benefits separate from salary

After receiving a job offer (congratulations!), thank them right away for the opportunity. Make sure to take the entire offer into consideration before broaching salary negotiation. You can start by saying "Before we get into discussing the salary, could you give me an overview of what would go into the entire compensation package?".

  • Insurance (medical, dental, vision, life)
  • 401K/Retirement planning
  • Professional association membership
  • Professional development budget
  • Vacation and personal days
  • Company car/expense account (if you will be traveling)
  • Cell phone coverage
  • Bonus options (signing bonus, performance bonuses, holiday bonuses)
  • Relocation expenses
  • Additional perks (free parking, tuition reimbursement, health club membership, etc.)
  • Commission structure (if applicable)

If you have been given an official offer that you do not feel reflects your value and/or the value of the position, now you have the ability to negotiate with the employer for a higher salary, better benefits package, and/or additional perks. Before negotiating, you must do your research on the appropriate salary level and prepare your rational for why you believe your worth is greater than the initial offer. Take some time to put this together by asking the employer if you can have a couple of days to consider the offer and schedule a time to speak with them again in the next couple of days.

Preparing for negotiation

Know that you will not be in a position to negotiate salary until you are offered a position. It is best to prepare for negotiation prior to the offer in case questions about desired salary come up in the application process. 

  • What salary would you need to cover your cost of living?
  • What was the salary range listed on the job posting?
  • What is the "market value" for this position? Resources for this information include: Glassdoor and, your network and informational interview contacts, employment agencies, competitors, similar job postings, trade and professional organization salary surveys.
  • Based on how your qualifications and experience match the position description, what do you consider a satisfactory offer?
  • What credentials, skills and accomplishments justify your requested salary (these should be specific examples, quantifiable results, etc.)?
  • What objectives might the employer have to your request? Be prepared for a counter-offer.
  • How will you respond to the objections?
  • What other non-salary items do you have to negotiate with (benefits, vacation, perks)?
  • What combination of salary and benefits is the minimum that you will accept?

Whether the employer does or does not meet your desired salary level, be sure to evaluate the job offer taking into consideration the position, the company, your personal lifestyle and your career goals in addition to the compensation.

Negotiation conversation

_____, I am so appreciative and excited to receive this offer for the _____ position with your company. I am specifically pleased with the _____ feature that we discussed last time we met.

After researching my position in the market I discovered that the average starting salary, with my level of education and experience, is between $65,000 and $70,000, which is $5,000 higher than the salary offered.

I’d like to counter your offer with this range. Is there an opportunity to negotiate to align with the value I will bring to this position?

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Additional resources