How to Negotiate Your Salary

February 18, 2014

CxC recently partnered with the LSU Olinde Career Center to host a workshop focused on salary negotiations and how to navigate those tricky conversations.  While many graduating seniors are quick to accept the first number they are offered, more money could be up for grabs.  Want to learn how to evaluate a salary and benefits package with a potential employer?  Check out the tips below that we have compiled from the workshop.

negotiate your salary

Before the interview:

Do research to plan your negotiation.

When negotiating salaries, you never want to ask for too much or too little.  Research the pay range for this position, and then ask for the top of that range.  Provide the employer with your research, examples of your work and why you are worthy of that amount.  Check out sites like Monster and Indeed’s salary wizards to get a better idea of the range you should be considering.

Know what you need.

Before you can accept a position, it is important to fully understand your cost of living.  Do your research to know how much rent, food, healthcare, incidentals, etc. will cost you in the location you want to work.  A job that earns 35,000 in Baton Rouge may be enough, but that same salary in a city like New York or Los Angeles would not go as far.


During the interview:

Watch your language.

It's important to use words like "we" instead of "I." The employer is considering how you could fit into their program, so frame the conversation around how you can be a beneficial team member. Don't focus on your salary needs, but instead focus on how your skills can translate into a higher salary.

Try not to mention numbers.

It is important to not give a specific number that may hinder your ability to negotiate later because it is too high or too low.  If you must give a number, first do your research and then provide a range where you would be comfortable. Moreover, if a potential employer asks how much you have made in the past, know that you do not have to answer that question if it makes you uncomfortable.


After the interview:

Understand the full offer.

Each employee is compensated in different ways.  It’s important for you to know what you value and what trade-offs you are willing to make.  Do you really want a good vacation plan?  Do you want great dental insurance? How about an educational credit?  Know what you need and what you could do without to help ease the negotiation process.

Do not negotiate until you have an offer in writing.

Most job offers include a detailed benefits package. Some offers may or may not include healthcare, childcare, retirement benefits, company cars, etc.  To capitalize on your bargaining power, you need to know what the entire offer entails by receiving a copy of it and reviewing it before making any final decisions.  For example, if the benefits package includes childcare but you do not have any children, you could try and re-work that so it benefits you more.