A job offer indicates that the employer has decided you are the best candidate for the job. While this confers some strength on your bargaining position, you must also be be well-informed to be effective in negotiations.
In the United States, women face a significant wage gap compared to men with the same professional profile. The differential in salaries that disadvantages women begins with the first salary negotiation. To assist women in overcoming the wage gap, Career Services offers to Wright State students the Start Smart Salary Negotiation Training for Women.
General Tips for Negotiations
Conduct Salary Research
Begin your job search with general knowledge of appropriate compensation, even though salary is negotiated at the end of the interview process.
For each job, conduct original research to determine the average range for that type of position, and your worth within that range.
The candidate should not initiate inquiries about the salary in the first interview.
Benchmark and Value Your Assets
Review information on job search benchmarking on our Research the Job Market web page. You'll find a guide to benchmarking under the tab titled Learn How to Qualify for Jobs.
Use Salary Research Resources to Find Ranges
Poor research resulting in unrealistically low salary expectations will negatively affect your earnings, bonuses, and benefits for years. Your earning power may not recover.
Unrealistically high salary expectations will reveal you to be ill-informed and weaken your candidacy.
Search for job titles and responsibilities comparable to the job for which you have applied.
Use salary comparison websites to determine average ranges for the job.
Use more than one salary comparison website.
Use ranges specific to the region of the country where you are applying.
Know Your Living Expenses
The minimum amount you can accept for a salary is the minimum amount of money you must make in order to cover all of your expense.
Develop a budget so you can determine how much money is needed to cover your living expenses. A budget in written form will help you avoid accepting a salary offer that does not provide minimum living expenses.
You must know this amount so that you do not accept a job that pays you less than a living wage, but you will not base your negotiations on this minimum amount.
You will negotiate a salary that is based on a fair and equitable offer based on your skills, experience, and education; the salary will fall within the range for the job in question.
Employ Strategies for Negotiating Salary
If you demonstrate to your potential employer that you are a strong, informed negotiator, they will more highly value you, because you are demonstrating attributes that will benefit the company once you are an employee.
Prior to entering into a salary negotiation:
- Know what constitutes a fair and equitable salary range for the job and your market value within that range.
- Realistically assess the value of your skills, education, experience and accomplishments in relation to the field, and plot your worth within the fair and equitable salary range.
- Expect to let the employer be the first to mention a salary amount.
- Understand that tangible and intangible benefits are an additional part of the total compensation package.
- Plan to get offer details in writing.
- Plan to evaluate your offer based on the entire package.
If you are asked your salary expectations prior to being offered the job, you can
- Defer talk about salary until after an offer is made.
- Respond that you will consider any fair and equitable offer.
If the employer persists in asking your salary expectations before an offer has been made, you can
- Acknowledge their interest and ask what the employer has determined is an appropriate range for the position (knowing their position does not commit you to any amount).
If completing an online application that requires you to enter an expected salary amount, you can:
- Leave the field blank, if allowable (although this may dismiss you from the applicant pool)
- Type in that you prefer to defer salary specifications until an offer is made; or that you will consider any fair and equitable offer, if the application allows you to enter text
- Enter the range for the position that your research has revealed to represent a fair and equitable wage, if a range is allowable
- Enter the highest end of the range, if only a single amount is allowable
- Enter the highest amount within the range that your research indicates is the market value for your education, skills, abilities, and other assets, if only a single amount is allowable
If you find yourself engaged in salary negotiations as the successful candidate after submitting a target amount in an electronic application, it is acceptable to revisit the amount initially submitted and restate your salary goals based on new information you learned during the interview process.
Once you or the employer states a specific range, negotiations have begun.
Once you present a range to the employer, any offer within that range is an acceptable offer from the employer’s perspective.
Desired salaries above the standard industry range are considered unreasonable and may end the negotiations.
Avoid revealing current salary. It is not relevant to the job opportunity.
What is relevant?
- Current industry salary ranges
- Local adjustments for cost of living
- Predicted market growth or shrinkage
- Saturation of the market by competing candidates
- The level of your skills, abilities and experiences as they relate to the job
- The ability of the company to pay
When the wages offered are less than ideal, negotiating for increased benefits and perquisites is one option. Some examples of benefits and perquisites which may be subject to negotiation:
- Life insurance
- Health insurance
- Retirement plans
- Tuition remission
- Flex time
- Increased vacation
- Parking fees
- Company-leased cars
- Bonus structure
- Opportunity to telecommute
Consider the non-monetary potential of the job. If the salary is lower than average or lower than desired, and evaluation of the organization indicates it will not or cannot go higher, are there compelling reasons to accept the offer anyway?
Some considerations would be:
- The opportunity to earn credit for accomplishing a high profile assignment
- The chance to work with a powerful mentor
- A choice position in a new career field that promises excellent connections for the career changer
Avoid Common Mistakes
Lack of research on salary and benefits can result in one of many poor outcomes for the negotiation process, such as:
- Pulling a number out of the blue, or responding by giving an overly broad range
- Overvaluing your skills
- Stating a range that is unrealistically high
- Professing ignorance and asking what the employer is prepared to offer
- Evaluating a salary offer based on how well it covers current monthly expenses
- Using the salary in acurrent job as the basis for evaluating the salary in the anticipated job
- Responding emotionally to a salary offer. This might happen if the offer is higher than any salary you have ever earned, whether or not it is a fair and equitable wage for the position under consideration
- Failing to consider and calculate cost of living differences between your home area to the new location when relocation is involved
Consider the Entire Package
When assessing a job offer, consider the entire package (which includes benefits and intangibles), not just the salary. While salary is important, sometimes the benefit package can be the determining factor in accepting an offer.
Tangible and intangible benefits may include, but are not limited to:
- Health, dental, vision care insurance
- Retirement contributions
- Company car
- Tuition contribution
- Professional memberships
- Flexible scheduling
- Paid vacation
- Ongoing professional education (workshops, certifications)
- Daycare facilities
- Formal mentoring
Plan for Offers, Decision Dates, and Written Confirmation
It is unusual to be offered a job on the spot. Initial interviews and job fair interviews are generally only the first in a series. Still, some candidates may be offered jobs in a first interview.
Negotiate a timeline by which you will respond to the offer. For example, if the interview is on a Monday, offer to reply by the middle or end of the week. If an offer is made on a Friday, commit to replying by Tuesday. Allow yourself time to consider the offer, gather more information about comparable salaries and benefits, and develop a response.
Your response may be
- outright acceptance
- a proposal for changes in the offer
- or a polite and diplomatic rejection of the offer
Once you and the employer agree upon an offer, ask for a confirmation letter with the details.
Find More Resources for Negotiating Salary and Benefits
In our Career Resource Center in E334 Student Union, Career Services has more materials about negotiating. The CRC is a non-circulating library, but students and alumni may use these books in the CRC during our office hours, or order them through their local bookstore or public library.
Special considerations for specific groups
Women: learn more about Start Smart Salary Negotiation Training
In partnership with the Women’s Center, Career Services offers Start Smart workshops for groups of women students, aimed at reducing the salary gap that currently exists between professional men and equally-qualified professional women.
To coordinate a Start Smart workshop for a Wright State University group, call (937) 775-2556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Teacher candidates: info about offers, contracts, & dates
- You are under no obligation to immediately accept or reject an offer made to you.
You are encouraged to take time to consider an offer, gather information, determine the employer's need-to-know timeline, and respond accordingly. There may be other opportunities you wish to pursue.
- Ask questions to clarify the details of a job offer.
Make sure you understand the language and the time frame. Know your rights and responsibilities.
- Consult an expert.
Review the contract before signing. If you need help, you can make an appointment with Student Legal Services at 775-5857. This is available to current students who have paid the Student Legal Services fee.
- Signing a letter of intent is a legally binding agreement.
You will be obligated to follow through on any teaching assignment for which you sign a letter of intent. After you sign a letter of intent, your job search should stop and you should inform any inquiring school district that you have signed a letter of intent with another district.
- Signing a contract is a legally binding agreement for employment.
Once you have signed the contract, you are legally committed to working as a teacher in that district for the agreed time frame. Your job search should stop and you should inform any inquiring school district that you have signed a contract with another district.
- If you sign either a letter of intent or a contract, deactivate your name on The Wright Search.
- Stay active on The Wright Search!
Teaching opportunities are posted every month, often through October. Stay active in The Wright Search.
Important Timeline Information
Some important dates to know in the teaching opportunity timeline:
- Continuing contracts are typically offered to currently employed teachers in February and March.
- Districts have a better idea of their remaining needs in April.
- In mid-July, currently employed teachers must notify districts of their intention not to return.