When to discuss salary
It’s absolutely appropriate, and preferable, to begin discussing salary AFTER you’ve been offered a position. However, some employers may ask for your salary requirements early on in the process (in your resume or cover letter) in order to weed out overqualified candidates. If this is the case, put down a reasonable salary range rather than one firm number.
It’s best if the employer names a figure first. Otherwise, you run the risk of naming a figure lower than what they were willing to pay or an unreasonably high amount. If they want you to name a salary first, try redirecting it back to them:
- Ask what the typical range is for others with this position in the company.
- Ask what range they have budgeted for this position.
- Let them know that you will consider any reasonable offer.
Determine What You Need
Add up how much money you need to live on to cover your expenses including bills (don’t forget about those student loans!), food and play money. This is your bottom line - the lowest salary you can reasonably accept.
Investigate what you're worth
Your “fair market value” is based on how much other people are being paid in your location and industry with similar skills, experience, and education. You can research this on websites like payscale.com or salary.com. It will show you a low, middle, and high amount. Aim for the middle value in your negotiations.
About half of all job seekers accept the first offer without negotiating. This is unfortunate; the majority of employers will not give you their best offer initially because they are expecting you to negotiate. There are exceptions to this such as in government, retail, or any employer that tells you they've given you their best offer, but generally speaking, you should come back with a reasonably higher counter offer.
Remember that your counteroffer can include more than just base pay; it can include bonuses, stock options, vacation time, and a flexible working schedule.
But be careful; don’t make demands or issue ultimatums unless you really are willing to walk away from the existing offer.
Accept or Decline
Generally, you shouldn’t wait longer than a week to get back to the employer with your answer.