Negotiating Salary

The Right Reasons to Negotiate Salary

When you've been offered a position, the thrill of the offer may be offset by disappointment when the salary doesn't meet your expectations. Negotiating salary can be done, but you must approach the conversation carefully.

Consider negotiations after you research current wages for your experience level and geographic location. Consider using resources like or Glassdoor and review the average salaries of recent CWRU graduates as reported in the First Destination Survey. Following your research, approach salary negotiations if:

  • The salary range is less than the industry average.
  • The offer does not reflect the cost of living for the job location.
  • You've received multiple competitive offers from other source.
  • If salary is not negotiable, consider negotiating for moving expenses, a sign-on bonus or immediately available vacation hours. 

When to Negotiate

The best time to negotiate is after an offer is extended by the employer. Avoid discussing salary during the interview process. When asked what your salary requirements are by a potential employer during an interview, indicate a range, not an exact dollar amount. For example, "Based on the industry average and my level of experience, I am seeking between $54,000 and $59,000."

Occasionally there will be circumstances where salary is discussed prior to an offer. It is important to handle each situation with confidence. Here are some examples of situations where salaries may be discussed and suggestions on how to handle these discussions:

  • When responding on an application, indicate "open" or "negotiable" under salary requirements.
  • Under salary history, you can indicate "competitive" unless it asks for specific dollar amount.
  • Be truthful as many companies attempt to verify past salaries with previous employers.

Accepting an Offer

Before you respond to an offer, take a deep breath and plan your next steps. Make sure to get the offer in writing and take time to evaluate your offer. Once you have completed any negotiations, call the employer to accept the offer and then follow-up with a confirmation email. Make sure to include the position, start date, rate of pay and any recently negotiated items in your confirmation message. Maintain a copy for future reference. If you have negotiated additional items that change the original offer letter, ask the employer for an updated offer letter.

Once an offer is accepted, withdraw your applications with other companies. Let those employers know that you have received an offer and wish to have your name withdrawn from further consideration. It is unethical to continue interviewing once you have accepted an offer.

Also, it is a nice gesture to thank your references for their support in obtaining your new position!

Declining an Offer

To decline the offer, send the employer an official notice via email. State that you are declining the offer, but appreciate their interest in you and the opportunity to interview. You can mention why you are not accepting the offer, however this is not a requirement.

Asking for Additional Time to Consider an Offer

While it's important not to rush a decision, it's also important to respect the employer's time too. Keep the lines of communication open and be prepared with an explanation of why you need more time. Employers tend to give more time during the fall semester than in the spring.

Thank the employer and tell them you are excited about the opportunity. Say something like:

  • "This is a major decision; therefore, I would like more time to consider this offer."
  • "I would like to have time to discuss this offer with my family or supporters."
  • "I have a previously scheduled interview, and it is important to me to honor this commitment. In order to make the best decision, I am requesting more time."

You may receive an offer from your second or third choice before your first choice has extended an offer. In this case, you may want to notify your first choice employer that you received another offer, but you prefer their opportunity. If your first choice is truly interested in you, they may speed up their process. If they are unable to speed up the process, or if the company who made the offer is unwilling to extend the deadline, you need to make a thoughtful decision about what to do.

If you need help in making this important decision, schedule an appointment with a career consultant in Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education.