Lifestyle Sharing the Struggle

Sharing the Struggle: 6 Ways to Negotiate a Better Salary

I see you, sitting over there, post-college and pouring your heart and soul into every interview trying to land that dream job.  Trust me, after about six months of that, you will settle for a job that pays the bills with enough left over for tequila.  Since you are new to this, I’m going to let you in on a few industry secrets that are going to help you get the salary you deserve.

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Do Your Homework

If you want to sink your employment ship before its maiden voyage, go ahead and ask for that 6-figure salary with no real-world experience under your belt.  Part of your interview research should include salary research.  It is no longer frowned upon to share salary information, but some folks still find it taboo.  Your best bet would be to visit  There you can see what the range of salaries is at your new company for your position.  This range will include new hires and seasoned vets, so the upper range is not likely where you want to start unless you have years of experience in that field.  This will give you a starting point.

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Your Dream Number vs. Your Settle Number

You can get these figures in a variety of ways.  Your settle number is easy.  First, you need to determine how much you need to make to survive.  Some people will simply add several thousand to that number and that is what they will settle for.  Personally, my settle number is whatever I’m currently making.

Now that you have your settle number, you need your dream number.  This is the number you don’t actually expect them to offer you, but if they did, then you would be set.  These two numbers should be no more than $5,000 apart.  

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Start High

Companies are out there to make a profit.  To do that, you either need to produce more or spend less.  So, they are going to try to get you on board for as cheap as possible.  Whatever their first offer is, go higher.  Even if it’s your dream number, go higher.  This situation tells me either you have underestimated the work you will be expected to do or they see you as more valuable than you anticipated.  If their first offer is below your settle number, counter with just below your dream number.  The back and forth negotiations should land you somewhere in the middle.

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Don’t Take the Recruiter’s Word for It

It is their job to get you on board at the lowest amount possible.  If you counter and they say, “This salary is not negotiable,” ask them to speak with the hiring manager about the counteroffer and get back to you.  You have to keep in mind that they want you.  Badly enough in fact that you are being offered the job.  So, don’t be afraid to demand your due compensation.    

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Don’t Be the First to Offer a Number

Some applications ask for your salary requirements.  If there is room, respond with “I’ll be happy to discuss salary once there is an offer on the table” or leave it blank.  If your interviewer asks you how much you require, let them know you are open to negotiations once an offer has been made.  If pressured, give them your dream number.  What have you got to lose?

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Be Ready to Walk

If a job is offering less than your settle number or they won’t budge from their initial offer, politely thank them for their time and decline the offer.  This might mean you lose that opportunity, but the offer you accept is likely to haunt you for the rest of your career at that company.  For example, I worked at a company that gave annual raises based on a percentage of existing salary.  If I had accepted their lowball offer, I would have missed out on thousands of dollars over the years.

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Good luck!

June Spence

Have a question for June? Submit your questions or stories to or tweet us @SharingStruggle or @ShuffleOnline!

About June

June was born and raised in the south where “bless your heart” is an insult. Self professed serial dater and an expert in all matters of the heart. June also enjoys volunteering, dancing and sewing.

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