Help! Salary negotiation advice needed!

Mods–if this goes in MPSIMS, please move it.

I think I’m getting a job offer this afternoon (the owner has to OK it, but the person who would be my supervisor told me that she wants me for the job). The thing is, the salary range they gave me at the first interview is pretty wide, and I think I ought to be toward the top end. I’m also pretty sure that the owner is going to low-ball me. So, anyhow, how do I get him to up the offer without taking it off the table?

The position is for a writer–chamber of commerce type stuff. However, with my background, I’d probably be doing editing, proofing, layout, graphics, etc. I have a background in publishing, and almost a Ph.D. in English, as well as 8 years of teaching 1st Year Composition (the English TAs here know–that’s proofreading and editing at its worst)in which my best estimate is that I’ve graded/proofed/edited more than 2000 3-5 page papers.

I won’t need the benefits. My wife works for an HMO, so we have great benefits there.

I’m not in a position to turn much of anything down right now. I need the money badly, and more importantly, I need the satisfaction of having a productive job.

Any tips? Subtle negotiation techniques?


Don’t threaten to cut off their little fingers at the knuckles and don’t come in armed with weapons. That oughtta help you some.

Oh, and smile a bit when you tell them how much your worth :smiley:

My thoughts:

  1. Look up the standard rates of pay in your area, find where you should be, with your skills and education. Try the STC website (, they have a great salary survey buried in that site, including variables like gender, management/non-management, level of education, location, etc. That will give you a good ballpark, PLUS, you can use it in negotiation (“but the industry standard is…”). While that site is for ‘technical writing’ types, it sounds not far off from what you’ll be doing. If there’s another professional organization you know of that is more appropriate, then look them up for similar info.

  2. Don’t act like you need the job or the money. Pretend you have another offer, even if you don’t say that out loud. Your spine will be straighter, and your body language will say ‘you need me more than I need you.’ If you don’t like their offer, mention that you have a better offer elsewhere (if you can do so without blushing or otherwise making it look like you are lying), but you really like the job description here better, and ask if they can hitch it up a bit. I have seldom heard of an offer going up by much, once made, but they usually have a small range to work in.

  3. Did you tell them what you made before? If not, don’t. I told my current employer that my previous salary was not applicable to my current offer - they should offer me what they thought I was worth, and we’d discuss it (previous job was not in the same client market). They pushed, I smiled and refused to say. I did suggest a range (the bottom being mid-to-high-end of what I expected, but going up 10K from there). They offered slightly under the midline of the range I suggested, which was a 50% pay increase from my previous job. In my experience, companies are comfortable offering about a 10-15% pay increase off your previous job, in the tech world. Might be lower in non-tech. If I had told them what I made, I wouldn’t have gotten the offer I got.

  4. Pause to think about the offer you are given. Let the silence be theirs to fill. If they sense they might lose you by a margin, they will up it by their margin. Might not be what you want, still, but everything counts. I know of one person who was expecting a low offer, got a quite reasonable offer, was so stunned by that that they just sat there for a moment, whereupon the recruiter upped the offer (thinking he was stunned at it being too low). Long shot, but worth a try?

  5. if the offer is low, go into details about what you expect to be doing, rather than ‘just’ writing, and ask if the offer was meant to include those tasks, as it sounds low for the job complexity.

  6. Discuss the option of not using the benefits. They may not have a choice but to pay for them either way, depending on state law, so it may not help, but then again, it may.

  7. If you still get nowhere, ask for a 6-month review the first year, instead of a 1 year review. This way they will know what you are worth, and you get your increase sooner. And meantime, shine shine shine! :slight_smile:

Good luck! Given the employer, there may not be a lot of flexibility in the offer, though if they gave you a range, hopefully they’ll play in the whole space, not just a portion of it.

hedra’s advice is dead on.

You want them to name the numbers, while you react to them. You don’t want to name any numbers! Employers want to pay you the lowest amount that you’ll accept. You want them to have to do some serious thinking about what they are worth.

Make them nervous with silence, like hedra said. Even if you really, really, really like the offer and want to jump at it, tell them “thank you very much, I am very interested in the position, why don’t I call you with my decision tomorrow?”

If the offer is lower than you want but you still want the job, try to get some other stuff thrown into the kitty. You will never be in a better negotiating position than you are right now, pre-accepting the job.

For example, ask what kind of bonuses or other incentive programs they offer? How often are salary increases given, and what is the average % per employee? If they can’t meet your salary desires, can they throw in an extra week of vacation time? If they do agree to something like extra vacation time, GET IT IN WRITING IN YOUR EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT.

Thanks! I got the offer today, and your advice helped. I managed to get an original offer of 2K more than expected, bumped that up another K or so, and will get a review in 60-90 days that should be good for another grand tacked on. They’ll also be paying for training classes in PhotoShop, PageMaker, and Web Design.

I start Monday. What am I going to do without my 4 or 5 times-a-day SDMB fix?

That qualifies as my good deed for the week! Congrats, and glad the advice helped.

Congratulations Stofsky! And don’t worry, if you skip lunch, you can get an SDMB hit in. I mean, food or the boards, you have to set some priorities here! :wink: