Offer Negotiation

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When going though the process of an OFFER NEGOTIATION, reflecting on your overall value based on experiences and skills, your personal and professional needs and wants, along with how you meet the needs of an employer and position, is key. Consider starting the negotiation process after 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. 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 want and deserve in any professional situation.

During the Interview and Initial Offer

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 "...in salary negotiations, raise negotiations, flea markets, used car sales, the sewer repair bill — just about anywhere financial transactions take place."

Value and Strategies

Determining Your Value:
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

Additional Resources