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Deal or No Deal: The Salary Game

Posted At: April 9, 2008 12:17 PM
by Savannah Lanier

There are a few things on the minds of thousands of new graduates each year: life’s next step, student loans, the real world and, of course, money. We’ve gone to school for over half of our lives for this moment. It’s time to be pushed out of the nest once and for all.

With our degrees fresh in hand, we know we want to start making some money. What a lot of us don’t know is how much we’re worth, how much to ask for and when to negotiate. With a little research, good timing and negotiation, it is possible to get the starting salary that you want.

The first step in preparing yourself for negotiation is researching your worth as an employee. Your value to a company or organization varies greatly according to your education, experience and place of employment. Since most grads will be entering a field at entry level, it is important to know the typical salary ranges for where you are seeking a job. You can research salary ranges online, in trade magazines and by asking other people in your field.

For example, in Minneapolis, Minn., an entry-level public relations specialist median salary plus bonuses is $46,769, and the range is $40,637-$52,532 ( The size of the company and its location determine where you will fit in that spectrum.

According to, it’s important to wait as long as possible to negotiate a salary. Wait until you are officially offered the position. Never be the first to bring up money or benefits. One of the biggest mistakes a jobseeker can make is revealing how much money he is expecting too soon. The earlier you reveal salary information, the less room you will have to negotiate.

Some employers will ask for salary preferences early on, even in the resume or cover letter. When asked to indicate salary preference in a cover letter or resume, just avoid the topic or write salary is negotiable. When asked early on in an interview an appropriate response would be, “I applied for this position because I am very interested in the job and your company, and I know I can make an immediate impact once on the job, but I’d like to table salary discussions until we are both sure I’m right for the job” (

Once you are finally offered the job, it’s time to negotiate. According to a survey from Society of Human Resource Management, four out of five employers are willing to negotiate but only a few jobseekers take advantage of the opportunity. First when negotiating, request the highest reasonable amount that you are willing to accept. So when the employer counter-offers, it will be closer to what you had in mind rather than much lower. If you start with a lower initial request, the amount can only go lower from there. If the employer’s offer is low and he can’t budge because of the corporation’s salary ranges, look at other opportunities of compensation such as a signing bonus, other types of bonuses and benefits such as health insurance.

If an employer isn’t willing to negotiate, never settle. It’s important to be reasonable about what you will get, but never settle. Many jobseekers are so desperate to be employed that they will accept a number lower than they deserve. When negotiating, it is also handy to wait a week before accepting or counter-offering an amount.

Finally, when the offer meets your standards, get it in writing. If the employer refuses to put it in writing and wants to make a verbal agreement, be very wary. Always make sure every aspect of the negotiation is documented. If not, you could be sorry later.

With these tools in hand, you are ready to make a deal. Remember to know your value, research salary ranges and be very strategic with timing. Good luck!


Quintessential Careers. Retrieved February 18, 2008, from Retrieved February 18, 2008, from

Do you know of any handy methods to achieve the salary that you want?

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