Salary negotiation doesn't have to be uncomfortable or difficult like we make it out to be. Thanks to it being the third millennium, most of these negotiations can be done via email or over the phone instead of across a scary conference room table like the negotiations of your worst nightmares. If you've nailed down your first job or internship offer, congratulations! You've made it through the hard part, now it's time to hammer out the details (see what I did there?). When I first thought about writing a post like this, I wanted to write it for young women entering their first job out of school. Salary negotiation is an increasingly hot topic for women, because we've been proven less likely to go after a higher salary.  After some thought, I realized that the advice I have to offer is workable for anyone, so here it is. Sure you could google "tips for salary negotiation" with ease,  but I'm offering up my advice after just recently going through this process. Industry experts, correspondents, and hiring managers have great insights to share, but I hope this provides you with a relatable perspective. Disclaimer: this post is targeted to those looking to negotiate an initial salary, not a raise. Whether you are young, old, transitioning careers, a man, woman, or anyone in between-- this advice is for the hard-working folks who just want to learn how to ask for the salary they deserve. Remember that the employer wants you and is often expecting you to negotiate! Now feel special.

Rather than giving you a step-by-step guide, because you're grown and you probably understand basic correspondence, I'm going to address common questions and concerns regarding salary negotiation. Here it goes!

I have no clue how much I should be making! HELP!

1) With websites like Glassdoor, you can search specific salaries by position and location. Real people use the website to submit their own salaries and job reviews, and plebes like us can use those salaries to make educated guesses and counter-offers.

2) Ask around. Chances are your childhood neighborhood mom is bragging to your own mom about how much her son is making in his new job. Be nosey. Be proactive. Ask your professors and any other trusted grown-up about these things. They know...

I received my first job offer with the salary included. How do I bring up negotiation?

A considerably appropriate, polite, and direct response to get you started (it's like grown up Mad Libs):

I am mostly set on accepting this position with [company] after learning more and some careful consideration. I am very grateful for the opportunity and also the [relocation/signing bonus/thing companies usually throw in], which is comparable to what other companies offer. I consider [career website] to be a reliable source for salary information and see that [your position] out of [city you'll be working in] are earning a base salary of [dollars] per year. Is it possible to negotiate a base salary closer to that, to be more consistent with what other [your position] with my experience are making?

This offer is painfully low. What do I do?

Consider what a job offer involves. What are the perks of the job? Do you get to travel? Is there free food and a gym at your office (that accounts for a huge part of monthly expenses)? What about free beer? What are the health benefits and incentive packages like? Is there an end-of-the-year bonus? If you are in a sales role, you are often working with commission and a lower base salary. All of these factors ultimately play into that number, so after being shocked, think about it. Then go from there.

Should I have an exact number in mind?

First, know that for different jobs there are different salaries you may be willing to accept. When coming back to the employer with a counter offer, have a range in mind instead of just a magic number. With the first counter offer, give them a high number, about $8-10k more than you would be willing to settle with. If you are at the point where you're giving a 2nd counter offer, ask for about $5k more than you are willing to settle with. If they offer you more than that "rock bottom" number, congratulations! You can breathe now.


Salary negotiation, especially for people with nearly zero experience can be tough. I'm speaking from my own experience, which was nerve-wracking but overall positive. What works for me may not work for you. Just listen to your gut and only do what you're comfortable with. Remember that no number is set in stone and you can always prove you're worth more with quarterly and annual evaluations in your workplace. Consider how much more you can earn over your career if you start with a higher salary! That's hundreds of thousands more dollars over the span of you career. 

Go make that money, money, money - Usher