An area of the job search that seems to receive little attention is the art of negotiating. Once you have been offered a job, you have the opportunity to discuss with the employer the terms of your employment. Preparation is probably the single most important part of successful negotiations.
Once you get an offer, gather as much factual information as you can to back up the case you want to make for a higher salary. You don't want to jeopardize the offer by only focusing on that aspect of the package. Turn your attention to some of the other more flexible parts of the offer such as your health plan, dental plan, retirement package, the type of schedule you prefer, etc.
Here are some helpful links for salary information -
NACE Salary Calculator Center
Compensation information from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
An inside look at company salaries, reviews and interview questions for more than 26,000 companies.
Provides job search tools, salary information and articles on topics relevant to college students.
PayScale Salary Calculator
Provides accurate, real-time salary information.
Chances are that you will not know the person you’re negotiating with very well. If you are lucky enough to be acquainted, spend some time reviewing what you know about this person's communication style and decision-making behavior.
Be sure you know exactly, not approximately, what you want. This does not mean you will ever get exactly that, but having information clear in your head will help you determine what you are willing to concede. Unless you know what you want, you won't be able to tell somebody else. Clarity improves communication, which is the conduit for effective negotiations.
Actually rehearse the presentation in advance using another person as the employer. If you make mistakes in rehearsal, chances are that you will not repeat them during the actual negotiations. A friend can critique your reasoning and help you prepare for questions. This all may seem like a lot of work. But remember: If something is worth negotiating for, it is worth preparing for.
Dollars and Sense
Requesting a salary increase because you are a fast learner, or have a high GPA usually are not justifiable reasons in the eyes of the employer. Meaningful work experience or internships that have demonstrated or tested your professional skills, however, are things that will make an employer stop and take notice.
Sometimes the employer will bristle at the suggestion that there is room to negotiate. Stand firm, but softly encourage the employer to think about it for a day or two at which time you will discuss the details of your proposal with them. Do not rush the process. Remember this is a series of volleys and lobs, trade-offs and compromises that occur over a period of time. It is a process—not a singular event!
Once you have reached a conclusion with which you are both relatively comfortable, present in writing your interpretation of the agreement so that if there is any question it will be addressed immediately. Negotiation, by definition, implies that each side will give. Do not perceive it as an ultimatum.
If the employer chooses not to grant any of your requests—and realistically, they can do that—you will still have the option of accepting the original offer provided you have maintained a positive, productive and friendly atmosphere during your exchanges. You can always re-enter negotiations after you have demonstrated your worth to the organization.
Money Isn't Everything
There are many things you can negotiate besides salary. Benefits, which can include paid personal leave, childcare, discounts on the company's products and services, life insurance, retirement plans and tuition credit, add thousands of dollars to the compensation package. Traditional benefits packages include health insurance, paid vacation and personal/sick days.