The topic of salary negotiation has come up recently with a few clients, so let’s explore it a little bit. Negotiating a salary makes a lot of people uncomfortable, so many people just avoid it altogether and accept whatever is offered. It doesn’t have to be this way!


Employers expect that you will be negotiating. The further you get in your career, the more this becomes true. There’s a couple of hard and fast rules that will help you make the most of this opportunity. And remember, your point of power for negotiation is ALWAYS at the time of the offer. Once you accept the job and begin doing the work for that salary, it’s only going to be harder. Plus, whatever number you negotiate now is what your future increases will be based on, so make it count!

Let’s look at the four rules of salary negotiation...

  1. Don’t make it personal. The basis for your negotiation should always be the contribution that you bring to the job, and nothing else. This is the only thing that the employer is basing your offer on. You can reference your education and past accomplishments if they are relevant and add value to your argument.

  1. Be informed. You must come to the negotiation with accurate information. As a job seeker, this can be hard to come by, but there are resources available. is one good place to go for salary information that you can customize based on your location. Even better, if you know anyone who is in your line of work, or works at your company of interest, they may be able to provide you with some guidance on what salary to ask for. 

  1. The first person to talk loses. I’ve said it before that job hunting is identical to sales, and here’s another reason for that. One of the cardinal rules for closing a sale is that the first person to talk loses (once the price is quoted and you are waiting for the customer to decide). In salary negotiations, you should delay the conversation until an offer is made, if possible. Second, try to get a salary range from them before disclosing your request. However, that’s not always possible. Also, remember that you should avoid disclosing your current, or most recent, compensation unless it supports your argument for more money.

  1. Consider the total package. Your salary, of course, is the biggest piece of your compensation but it isn’t the only piece. If they can’t meet the salary that you want, consider negotiating remote work or other benefits. Or, perhaps the health benefits package is more valuable than at your last position. The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no. They won’t rescind their offer just because you asked.

Here’s how the potential conversation might go and how to handle it....

Sample dialogue:

Hiring Manager: “What is your salary requirement?”

Candidate: “I have a range in mind, but I’d like to know what the company has budgeted before I give you a firm number. From there, I’m very willing to negotiate within the range. What is the salary range that is allotted for this position?”

Hiring Manager: “I can’t disclose that at this point. Can you tell us your range first?”

Candidate: “I’m currently being considered for positions in the range of $75-85K. Is that aligned with the salary for this position?” 
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