Do’s and Don’ts: Salary Negotiation

The semester is almost over! Whew! In a few short weeks, approximately 6,300 seniors will graduate from Auburn University. Congratulations, seniors! Some of you will continue your education and go to graduate or professional school and many of you will be looking for a full-time job. When receiving job offers, it is important to know how to negotiate your salary. I want to share a few do’s and don’ts of salary negotiation. It’s best to be prepared when you get that phone call from a hiring manager who is offering you your first real job!

DO know your value –
Find out what your skills and level of experience are worth in the job market. You should consider all of the past experience you have gained through internships, co-ops, volunteer and part-time work, as well as your education level.

DO your homework –
(1) Research career fields and salary averages for various occupations. Review the Occupational Outlook Handbook and NACE salary survey. (2) Investigate cost of living adjustments to salary based on the employment location. Check out these websites for comparisons:,, and (3) Develop a salary range (not too broad) with a high, low and medium range. (4) Examine the company’s hiring history to learn what has been paid/advertised for this position and the skill/experience level required for the position.

DO know when to negotiate –
(1) Ideally, the best time is after an offer is made by the employer. Discussing salary before an offer is made may screen you out of the job if your requirements are too high or it may lock you into a low salary. (2) When asked what your salary requirements are by a potential employer during an interview, indicate a range, not a dollar amount. This range should be slightly higher than the low end of your range. Consider negotiation once the offer is made.

DON’T jump the gun –
Let the employer make the offer first. Maintain an honest and non-emotional response. This response should be based on your research. First, restate the offer, then “digest” it. Your body language should demonstrate thought, not emotion. If it is less than you expect, you can indicate that it is lower than you expected based on your research.

Be prepared to verify how and where you researched! Then counter their offer with your researched response and desired range. Remain objective, positive, and courteous during this conversation. They will respond with what they are able or not able to offer. Sometimes this may involve speaking to another person in the company and getting back to you.

For more information concerning these do’s and don’ts as well as other tips on salary negotiation, check out this tip sheet from Career Development Services.

By: Audra Perry

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