How to negotiate salary

Piggy bank
Jennifer Narayan
Jennifer Narayan (Business Management ’10) is a Career Coach, Executive Recruiter and the founder of CareerRealTalk.

Salary negotiation can be a big — and intimidating! — part of the job hunt process. Did you recently receive a job offer, but aren’t sure if the salary is competitive enough? Or are you still interviewing and clam up when asked: “What is your current salary, and what are you looking to make?” Either way, this blog will provide you with the tips you need for successful salary negotiation.

Know your worth

Websites like,, and are great resources to help you come up with a fair number. Compare information between all three sites to calculate an average as a starting point. If you begin a salary negotiation without knowing your worth, you risk having no influence and leaving it in the hands of the hiring manager.

Pick your magic number

Once you know the salary range for your position in your city, you can come up with your magic number. This is the number you’ll be proposing during the negotiation process. Be prepared to back it up with your educational background, experience, and what you’ll bring to the role. Don’t be afraid to be your best cheerleader, and never undersell yourself.

Prepare an overview of your current salary package

You want to consider all of the direct and indirect costs and benefits that will affect you to gain an understanding of the bigger picture. What are your current stock options and health benefits? What’s your commute like? Does your current company pay for your car or cellphone? If the new company doesn’t offer the same level of perks, they may consider a one-time signing bonus, especially if the position is more senior.

It might be helpful to create a spreadsheet, not only for yourself, but the hiring team can also use it to draw up a more compelling offer.

Rehearsal time

No matter how silly you might feel about this step, it will help you in the long run. You can role play with a loved one or a trusted colleague to practice your responses. The key here is to sound confident, not entitled. Kind yet firm. Be prepared to handle objections by brainstorming possible reactions to your magic number.


Before jumping into the negotiation, remind them of your value by walking through a couple of relevant accomplishments. How have you gone above and beyond recently? And what will you do to achieve similar, if not better, results in the new position?

During this meeting, remember the following:

  • Go high and ask for more money than you want.
  • Present your magic number before they present theirs.
  • Don’t pretend you’re willing to walk away if you’re not.
  • Assert yourself, but don’t be pompous.
  • Have that spreadsheet handy.
  • Ask them for their thoughts and concerns.
  • Listen.

If it doesn’t go as planned, don’t consider it a rejection.

Jennifer Narayan (Business Management ’10) is a Career Coach, Executive Recruiter and the founder of CareerRealTalk.