Offer Negotiation

First and foremost, do not begin job negotiations until you have the offer in writing. Whether to accept or reject is totally in your control, but you want to make the most informed decision possible—and that means reviewing the details in black and white.

There are times where the hiring manager will ask you about compensation during the interview itself. Start your answer by asking for the range that is budgeted for the position. If that tactic doesn’t work, state a broad range based on the salary research you’ve already done: “Based on my research, it appears that the market value for this position is anywhere from $XXX to $XXX, depending on the position responsibilities, the organization, and the total benefits package offered. I’m currently most interested in learning as much as possible about the position itself. If I were lucky enough to be offered a job with [Organization Name], I’m sure it will be fair.”

Providing a salary number at the beginning of the discussions inevitably results in a number at the lower end of the range. It’s essential to define your salary requirements based on total compensation, and not simply the base salary if you’re giving yourself the option to negotiate for other non-monetary requests. In his article "Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Agree", Ladders writer Jack Chapman argues that interviewees should learn how to respond to initial offers by using just one word: "Hmmm." He refers to the move as “The Flinch,” and he explains that it works " salary negotiations, raise negotiations, flea markets, used car sales, the sewer repair bill — just about anywhere financial transactions take place."

Cut yourself some slack. It's perfectly normal to be nervous during salary negotiations, but if you don't actively engage in the process you may leave money on the table. Developing effective transaction skills will help you get not only what you need but also what you deserve in any professional situation. Graduate Career Services can help. Come see us.

Recommended Reading

Stop! Don't Try To Negotiate Your Salary Over Email!, Stacey Lastoe (Blog post)

Get Paid What You’re Worth, Robin L. Pinkley and Gregory B. Northcraft

Knowing Your Value (Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth), Mika Brzezinski

Digital Resources

Determining Your Value:

Cost of Living, CNN Money— How far will your salary go in another city?

Hourly/Yearly Wage Converter,


LinkedIn Salary Calculator — Provides a salary/wage calculator that allows you to see what people are making according to location and profession.

Nerdwallet — Cost of Living Calculator

Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Comparison Tool, Indeed

Salary Expert

StackOverflow — Focused on tech salaries

YourRate — Calculate what your freelance rate should be

Negotiating Your Salary: Academia

A Dean’s Take On Salary Negotiation, Roger Sinclair (Article)

Negotiating That First Offer, Jennifer S. Furlong and Julie Miller Vick (Article)

Average Faculty Salaries By Field and Rank at 4-Year Colleges and Universities (2009-2010), from The Chronicle of Higher Education

Compensation Information, Chronicle Data (includes a drop-down indicator for information on either full-time or adjunct positions)

Health insurance, retirement or pension benefits, and faculty service requirements are not usually negotiable in the academic market. Instead, consider including the following areas as part of your initial “ask”: 

  • Office & Lab Equipment: Ask for office/administrative support (office supplies and printers, computers, etc.)
  • Research Assistance: Ask for travel funding (availability, conditions, grant business management support, etc.)
  • Teaching Assistance: Ask for teaching support (teaching assistant/s, teaching load reduction for your first year, etc.) 
  • Institutional Support for Trailing Partner: Ask for possible tenure track appointments, available resources for helping partner find employment

Negotiating Your Salary: Industry/Government/Nonprofits

Everything Is Negotiable: Learn the Power Facts, from

Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tools For Job Seekers, from LiveCareer

Guide to Negotiating Salary, Cheeky Scientist

How Not to Bomb Your Offer Negotiation, Haseeb Qureshi (Blog post)

Salary Negotiation FAQs, by Randall S. Hansen

Industry/Nonprofit organizations tend to be more open to negotiating than the government where offers are relatively standard/not usually negotiable. Consider the following areas as part of the initial “ask”:

  • Benefit Plans
  • Bonus Opportunities
  • Early Evaluations (6-month timeline rather than annual etc.)
  • Profit Sharing
  • Stock Options
  • Vacation Time

Graduate Career Services has a Pinterest site where we have posted a wide variety of content (culled from the best on the internet) that may be of interest to graduate students. Check out our Salary Negotiations board for more tips and advice!