Negotiate Offers & Salary

What is a Job Offer Negotiation?

Offer negotiation is a process in which you and a representative of your current or prospective company discuss the terms and conditions of employment. This can include things including base salary, start date, vacation hours, relocation costs, and more.

Whether you are a long-time employee or a new hire, if you feel that your salary does not reflect your abilities, negotiate to ensure you are getting fair market value your skills, experience, and knowledge.

Why should you negotiate rather than take the first offer?

  • Starting higher can be worth thousands over the term of the position, making it easier to pay your monthly bills.
  • Women ask for 30% less than men and accept an average of $7000 less annually.
  • 80% of employers expect a negotiation. 57% of men negotiate but only 7% of women.
  • It’s easier to negotiate at the beginning than make up the $ asking for raises.
  • You’re worth it!

Understanding Your Offer

For those who are new to the job market, and need to find information about what is included in your offer. It’s hard to determine what is most important to you and what you want to negotiate for when you don’t understand parts of your offer!

A salary is a fixed wage, that does not depend on the amount of hours the employee works. This fixed wage may mean that you can work less than the amount you are hired for, or more.

Resources for Exploring Salary:

Health insurance pays (or helps pay) for your medical needs, which can often include doctor visits, prescription drugs, emergency care, and certain medical procedures. Here are some basic terms you should understand:

  • Premium: What has to be paid to the insurance agency in order to have the health insurance.
  • Deductible: The amount of money you have to pay before the insurance kicks in.
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA): An account that allows you to set aside money before it is taxed, which can be used to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses.

To learn more about health insurance, you can look at this guide by United HealthCare.

Retirement plans are savings plans that help you prepare for retirement. Common retirement plans that can be sponsored by employers include:

  • 401(k)s are plans offered by private, for-profit companies.
  • 403(b)s are similar to 401ks, but are offered by tax-exempt and non-profit organizations.

To learn more about health insurance, you can look at this guide to Retirement Plans.

Paid Time Off is the time you can take off of work. Often, packages may vary in terms of how much is offered per year, how much notice you have to give, how it is accrued, and when the accrual starts (immediately after being hired, or six months into employment).

Sick leave is paid time that you can take off of work when you are ill.

Life Insurance is a contract that pays a death benefit to the policy owner when the insured person dies. The policyholder will pay a premium (or fee) for the policy. You can learn more about life insurance by reading this Investopedia article.

Other things to consider include:

  • Family and medical leave
  • Flex time
  • Professional development
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Vacation time
  • Moving expenses
  • Stock options
  • Title change
  • Sick, personal, and parental leave

How to Negotiate: Tips, Tricks, & Best Practices

General Tips

  • Research average pay for this position with your experience level. See “Researching Salary” for more information.
  • Articulate what you have to offer: how it meets or exceeds the job requirements, and why you want an increase over what they are offering. There can be many reasons for asking for more–you have more experience, you have a strong track record of success, you know you will be able to exceed your goals, etc.  Be clear with details about what you have to offer, and why it is worth it for the organization to meet your salary demands.
  • Get the offer in writing. Remember: when an offer is made, the power is turned over to you. It’s your move to ask for time, documents, and ultimately…more money! Don’t be surprised if you’re offered a job at your second interview. You can still ask for time to consider it.
  • Practice, practice and practice! It’s important to practice negotiating so you are comfortable in responding to questions and handling a situation with poise and in a professional manner. Practicing negotiations with a career counselor or a faculty person is highly recommended.
  • If the employer is not willing to increase your starting wage, ask about how your work will be reviewed and if an increase could happen in 3 to 6 months if you exceed expectations. Some people disagree with this approach, but it can work successfully.
  • Identify your priorities. It’s important to know what benefits are most important to you when you are going into a negotiation, or when you’re evaluating an offer. Try FSU’s Offer Evaluation worksheet to help figure out what you would like to prioritize.
  • Know what your bottom line is and when you will walk away. If it is a great job with an employer you really want to work for, sometimes a slightly lower salary to start can be OK. Salary is very important but it is not always a deal breaker. You may want $60,000 but if the job is amazing, it pays $45,000 with great benefits, and you can live on the salary saying “yes” can be a good choice. Also explore and weigh options for higher salaries and promotions down the road.

Researching Salary

Research the typical salary for the work you are seeking by checking online resources, and by talking to people in the field. Ask them what is a normal salary range as well as issues or protocols that may be important in negotiating a salary in that field.

  • Try several websites below to get salary ranges. Remember that level of experience and region of the country make impact the results.
  • Determine the keywords or similar titles associated with your position and search by them to get the broadest result.

Language to Use

Thank you for letting me know. I’m really excited! When will I receive the written offer and benefit package and when do you need to know my decision by?

I want to share that I just received an offer and need to let them know by [date]. I’m very interested in the [position name] at your organization. Could you provide an update on the hiring timeline and if I might be able to hear back before [Offer A deadline]?

I have received a competing offer. I’m wondering if you be able to increase the base pay to $$$$ / match the offer at [$$$$] ?

I’m really excited about this opportunity. Before I officially accept the offer, I want to discuss the base salary. Through my research, I’m looking for an offer closer to [$$-$$ ]. Would you have flexibility to move to this range?

“Thank you! I’m so pleased to be offered this position! Could you send it to me in writing so that I can take some time to look over the pay and benefits package? I can call you in a day or two after I receive it.”

Featured Articles

Job Offer Evaluation Worksheet by FSU

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