Negotiating for Your Future

Hooray! You’ve been offered a job! But don’t rush and say yes, at least, not right away. Thank the employer for the offer and say you would like to consider all aspects of the position, including the salary, before moving forward. Try to get the offer in writing now, if you can, so you can review everything related to the role.  

Once you have the timeline established (typically a few days to a few weeks – depending on the industry, start date, and recruiting cycle), you will use this time to conduct research and position yourself for negotiation. Even for entry-level positions, there can be room for negotiation. Women, historically, are paid less than men, so knowing your worth is critical; read more about the Gender Pay Gap.  

  • First, assess the minimum you need to live based on your set expenses (housing, transportation, food, loans, etc.) Then look at www.salary.com, www.glassdoor.com, and Job Market Insights to get a range of salaries for comparable positions. Know your worth and come up with a realistic salary range.  
  • Next, consider factors connected to the role itself: day-to-day tasks, travel, workspace (in-person, remote, hybrid), peers, supervision, commute time, number of people at the organization and/or in the department, professional development opportunities, promotional options, work hours, etc.  
  • Then think about perks and benefits the organization offers: health insurance, retirement contribution matches, vacation days, tuition reimbursement, etc. 
  • Lastly, be sure to factor in your own personal needs and desires. What will make you the most successful, productive, happy employee possible?  

To be considered a serious negotiator, you must know facts about the job, company, and industry and your absolutes and non-negotiables beyond the salary. When I negotiated my first job out of graduate school, I knew I had to pay off student loans and need a new car within a year or two, so the salary had to reflect my personal needs. I also looked for a job that had a staff of peers and promotional opportunities. I preferred an office that had a window, as well as flexible hours. Lastly, I wanted a job that didn’t have a micro-manager and gave me a chance to supervise both people and projects.  

When conducting my negotiations, I didn’t discuss my expenses with my future bosses; instead, I spoke to the experience I had going into the role, my educational background, and my desired skill set. I had self-confidence about the work I would do. I knew what I was looking for in the position and what I could negotiate. That stated, I also had doubts! This was my first time negotiating, and I spoke to men in power positions. I wanted to make sure that I projected the right level of assertiveness and not aggressiveness. In times of stress, I also know I add hesitancy to the end of my statements, making them sound like questions, so I was especially aware of how I spoke. 

Ready to negotiate? Have your lists ready, know your absolutes, and where you can be flexible. Do all you can to have a conversation (face-to-face or on the telephone), not rely on email or text. Approach the employer in a friendly way while not feeling like you must apologize for starting this conversation or that you need to speak tentatively. Ask the employer if the salary is up negotiable – they will either say, “Yes, what are you thinking?” or, “No, it is not.” If the former, you have the necessary information to introduce a reasonable number or range; if the latter, focus on the perks and benefits. Allow for silence, too – it is the best tool you have. Use the UConn Center for Career Development Negotiation Tip Sheet and/or AAUW’s salary negotiation resources for more strategies. 

Ultimately, these tactics worked well: I received two offers and used that situation to leverage the highest salary and perks possible, including moving the start date to best fit my schedule. In addition, I was promoted within 12 months, had annual raises, and was offered multiple opportunities to grow professionally, both in projects at the job and within state and national organizations.  

Employers EXPECT YOU to negotiate, so embrace the idea, not avoid it. As a woman, you may face barriers others don’t, so be sure to acquire as many tools as possible to level the playing field. Use the resources provided and seek support from the Career Center or another UConn staff or faculty member. 

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

By Beth Settje