Ceceilia By Ceceilia "Ceil" O'Callaghan • December 27, 2021

How to Negotiate Salaries: 5 Tips You Should Know

Discussions about compensation are often challenging. Whether it’s for a new job or requesting a raise at your current job, it’s natural and common to feel fearful and anxious.

Though people will say to depersonalize it, having people assign a dollar value to you always feels personal. When you personalize it, the employer often feels more defensive. But when you depersonalize it, the negotiation process can become more comfortable and less combative. When you state your case in a logical manner based on facts, the conversations are more productive. To do this, follow these tips.

1. Know your worth.

You’ll need to do a little research. To determine your value, you’ll typically want to:

    • Discover average salaries for your field using sites like salary.com
    • Know the cost of living where you work. If you are living in a high cost-of-living area and the salary information is national, adjust your expectations up. On the flip side, if you live in a lower cost-of-living area, adjust your expectations down.
    • Understand the demands of your field. The greater the demand, the more employers are willing to negotiate.

2. Develop a list of your contributions and successes. 

Be ready to discuss your contributions if you are looking for a raise, or how you will be able to contribute immediately to the organization if you are interviewing for a new job.

3. Focus on your value to the organization, not your personal wants or needs.

Employers are not responsible for taking care of your needs; they are expected to pay for the value you add. Speak, as much as possible, from a point of knowledge rather than your thoughts or feelings. Crucially, avoid comparisons with other individuals because this is about you and your worth to the organization.

4. Don't just focus on salary.

If you can’t get the salary you anticipated, the employer may be able to sweeten the offer with alternate compensation, such as:
    • A good benefit package, including strong health, dental, vision and family care insurance; retirement contributions; and daycare arrangements. Ultimately, good benefits can be valued at an additional 50 percent to the salary you are offered.
    • Bonuses
    • Remote-work options so you can reduce and/or eliminate costs.
    • Paid time off

5. Be prepared to compromise. 

You may not get everything that you request, so be prepared to compromise – this is not unusual during negotiations. That means avoid drawing a line in the sand unless you are prepared to leave if the employer does not meet your demands. Many people prefer to remain employed while they search for a new opportunity.

Hopefully you are successful, and you reach an offer or receive the raise you anticipated. If not, act like the professional you are. Take care of yourself by exploring new opportunities where you feel you are valued appropriately. Your success, rather than venting negatively about the employer, will be your best “revenge” – the employer will have lost a good professional.


Written by Ceceilia "Ceil" O'Callaghan

Ceceilia "Ceil" O'Callaghan is director of the Office of Career Development. She has more than 30 years’ experience in helping students and new graduates identify and realize their career goals. She has worked extensively with employers to identify their needs and create a better-prepared workforce. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling psychology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Connect with her via email at careerdevelopment@tesu.edu.

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