When & How to Negotiate

Once a position has been offered to you, there will be a conversation about remuneration. Here are some tips on doing so in a respectful, reasonable, and non-aggressive way.


While it's always best to clearly understand the job responsibilities during the interview process, it is to your advantage to wait until the job is offered to negotiate any salary and/or enhanced benefits. At this point, you will have more leverage in asking for what you reasonably desire for compensation and benefits.

Having time to familiarize yourself with the hiring manager throughout the interview process is important when it comes to negotiating salary and benefits, too, so be sure to ask questions during your interviews that will help establish good rapport and allow you to gain a better understanding of how s/he thinks. Also, you may want to practice the art of negotiation with a friend to help you gain confidence before negotiating with the hiring manager or your supervisor. By doing this, you may identify potential pitfalls to avoid.

When negotiating, it is important that you are reasonable, polite, and display non-aggressive behavior during these interactions. If you've made it to this point, the employer has already invested a great deal of time and effort and is anxious to get you on board. However, it's to your benefit to keep your expectations reasonable and to have already made up your mind as to your "bottom line" salary expectations. In any event, always be sure to get any concessions in writing before formally accepting the position, as this will minimize any confusion in the future about what was arranged.


Do as much homework as possible on salary ranges for your desired position, including how geographic location may affect what you get paid and how far your paycheck will go in that city. You can conduct some research on sites such as Salary.com or Glassdoor.com.


Depending on the type of position, salary ranges often are indicated on the job posting. Also, you can ask other professionals in the field what is a reasonable salary to expect with your level of experience and education.

If you are asked what salary level you desire, it's best not to give a specific number early in the interview process. Rather, consider saying that you need to have more information about the depth of responsibilities and expectations of the position before providing your requested salary. If the hiring manager insists that you provide a number, it's appropriate to give a range that reflects the data you've found in your research. By providing such a salary range, you communicate that you are flexible and also display a knowledge of the industry.

Keep in mind that it is very frustrating for those hiring when a candidate goes through the interview process with knowledge of the salary, only to demand a higher salary upon receiving a job offer. If you begin the interview process with concerns about the salary being too low, voice these upfront rather than later on. For example, you might share that the salary posted is lower than what you were expecting, or (if this is the case) that you are presently earning more in a similar position. Again, it's generally in your best interest to provide a salary range rather than a specific dollar amount.

Also remember that, while there may be some room to increase a starting salary, most organizations are restricted by a budget. Therefore, if you want to negotiate, it's wise not to ask beyond 15% higher than what has been offered. Negotiating salary is a calculated risk, especially if there is more than one final candidate, as the hiring manager can easily "take the offer off the table." For this same reason, don't presume that they can be flexible. If the offer turns out to be inflexible, then perhaps there are alternative, non-compensatory benefits that may add value to their offer.