Negotiating Salary



Most people realize how very important a respectable salary can be in the real world. On the other hand, most people don’t know the first thing about how to effectively negotiate what they are worth to prospective employers. “Most people quickly accept the first offer presented to them” (Martin). The purpose of this report is to address the proper ways to effectively negotiate salary and benefits. Many components are involved in successfully negotiating salary and benefits, such as researching a job’s current market value, your financial needs, your worth, interviewing, and other various aspects of negotiating salary and benefits. Current web sites, as well as books were used to gather data for the myriad of information involved in negotiating salary. Furthermore, two personal interviews were given to gain contrasting perspectives. A steadfast member of the Human Resources department at Robert W. Baird & Co. was interviewed to get an insider perspective, as well as a fervent recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Platteville in search of a career, for an opposing, personally relatable angle.

The negotiation process is probably the most crucial point of the job interview. Many people, however, consider negotiating salary an uncomfortable part of the process. “Unless you are an attorney, or someone who arbitrates for a living, chances are that you do not enjoy these situations” (Jensen). All too often people accept the first figure thrown at them by their prospective employers, leaving little or no room for negotiation. Negotiating salary is a multiple-step process that involves careful consideration and research. Knowing where you stand and what you want is paramount before even beginning to interview. There are several steps involved in becoming an effective negotiator.

You are one of the last candidates for a job and an offer was extended. How do you know the offer is acceptable? According to The Career Services Center Guide to Negotiating Salary, “determining the market rate salary range for the type of position in your particular industry,” is the first step to make. Knowing what the position pays on average can save you from accepting an offer that is too low, or from asking for too much. There are several ways to research salary range for a particular position. Many college campuses keep a collection of salary survey information. Job listings in the newspaper may also be a good source to gauge salary on. Friends or networking contacts, professional associations, and other job seekers can be useful as well. Review business or trade periodicals, or use on-line resources such as, pictured below in Figure 1-1. allows you to select from a list of occupations to find one that matches yours. Then, enter the location you live in, or you are job-seeking, to get an average salary range for that field and region. Resources such as these can be very useful in giving you a positive edge before even going in to the interview. Another aspect to remember is the total compensation package. Other factors can make a $35,000 salary seem like $50,000. For example, good insurance plans, bonuses, 401K plans, tuition reimbursement, continued training, paid vacation, stock options, company car, etc. The list goes on. A good point to remember is that while you may not get the exact figure you wanted, a solid benefit package can really sweeten the deal.

Figure 1-1 -

The Career Services Center Guide to Negotiating Salary says, “Decide, BEFORE YOU GO INTO AN INTERVIEW, what salary you WANT to earn, what you NEED to live on, and what you will be willing to SETTLE FOR.” Before interviewing, spend some time figuring out what your cost of living is. How much money is needed for bills, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, credit cards, etc? It is very important to take these factors into consideration when looking for a new job. Other aspects do, however, come into play when you determine your financial needs. They are called benefits, and they can either hurt you, or help you. “Benefits can be worth another 29 percent to 50 percent or your salary” (Martin). Depending on the company, insurance premiums, bonuses, and matching 401K plans can vary. After