Salary negotiation can be one of the more challenging parts of the interview process. You may be wondering: How much should you ask for? How can you find out what the position typically pays?  Will your job offer be withdrawn if you negotiate salary?  Read on for answers to these and other common questions, as well as tips to help you prepare for your next negotiation.

Three Quick Rules of Negotiation

  1. Try to delay the conversation until an offer is made. You have the most negotiating power at the time of the offer, but before you accept it. Discussing your salary requirements too early in the process can leave you at a disadvantage because you have less information about the position.

  1. Ask the company to disclose its salary range first. It’s not pushy or rude to ask this. If the employer can ask you for your salary requirements, you can ask them. Simply state that you’d like to negotiate, taking into consideration the salary range they have budgeted for the position.

  1. Employers expect you to negotiate. Most employers expect that you will negotiate your salary at some point in the process. Make your request on the slightly high end, knowing that they may talk you down lower. They will not rescind the offer just because you negotiated!  If by some rare chance they do, then you don’t want to work for them. This is the biggest reason some people choose not to negotiate. The worst that will happen is that the employer will counteroffer or say that their salary offer is final –and then ask if you are still interested.

How to Determine Your Salary Range

Prior to any negotiation, determine your personal desired range by focusing on these three numbers:

Your Ideal Number (the highest likely possibility)

Your Target Number (the most realistic possibility)

Your “Deal Breaker” Number (the lowest you will accept)

* For example, if you’d like to make $80,000 then your IDEAL number might be $85,000 or $87,000, while your TARGET number is $80,000 and your DEAL BREAKER number is $75,000. *

Salary Conversation Scripts for Specific Situations

If an employer asks for your salary range during a first-round interview, or on a phone screening, say this:

“My number one priority is to learn more about your organization and this role to determine if I’m the best match for your needs. Should an offer be extended, I’d be happy to negotiate with you at that time, and I’m confident we’ll be able to reach an agreement.”

If they persist and ask for your reply, say this:

“I’m prepared to negotiate depending on the range you are offering and the total compensation package. As I mentioned, if your offer is within the market average, I don’t anticipate salary being an issue.” Then change the subject to move the interview conversation forward. This is a critical step. Don’t leave the door open for more discussion about salary. Ask them a question on a different topic to divert their attention to a different aspect of your candidacy.

If at any point, they ask for your current or previous salary (instead of your salary expectations), say this:

“Since that’s personal information, I don’t usually give that out. But given the research I’ve done and what I know about this position and your company so far, I don’t anticipate that salary will be an issue.”

When you are intentionally accepting a position that pays less than you currently make, say this:

“Of course, compensation is important, but it’s not my only priority right now. I’m more concerned about finding a position that I can enjoy and grow in. If an offer is extended, I’m confident that we can reach a fair agreement on salary and benefits? that works for both of us.”

When you do disclose your salary, always give them a range and not a specific dollar amount. Determine your range ahead of time: it should be a number that you know is realistic for that position as well as an amount you’d be comfortable accepting if they offered it you. For example:

“I’m currently considering positions in the range of $X to $X, which I know aligns with the market average for a role like this. Is that in line with the company’s expectations?”

Additional Tips and Resources

  1. Consider the total compensation package. If the employer can’t meet your salary expectations, ask them about other benefits such as time off, telecommuting, better office space, flexible scheduling, etc. Paid Time Off (PTO)/Vacation is one of the most negotiable items that employers offer because it doesn’t affect their bottom line the way that salary does. Additionally, if any of these other benefits are less than those in your current position, you can use that as a negotiating point for a higher salary. For example, if the new position offers less vacation time than your current role, that supports your request for a higher salary.

  1. Negotiate a 90-day salary review. If the employer truly cannot (or will not) provide your requested salary amount, but you still want to accept the job, there is another strategy you can try. Request a 90-day Performance Evaluation with Salary Review. This is an opportunity for you to discuss your value to the company, based on the work you’ve done so far.  If the employer agrees, be sure it is written into the offer before you accept.

  1. Keep the tone of your voice light and friendly throughout the negotiation process. This is especially important over the phone when employers can’t see your expression or body language. Stay calm, confident, and friendly throughout these conversations.

  1. Know where to do salary research. You can find baseline salary information at, LinkedIn (for Premium Members), and Even better, do research within your network and talk to people in the same line of work to verify that you are asking for an appropriate salary.

For more information on this topic, listen to Episode 126 of the Career UpRising podcast, Master the Salary Negotiation, on iTunes or at

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