Daily Archives: November 20, 2011

Why it’s Important to Negotiate your Salary

(Photo source)

We hear this over and over again, and in my experience working full-time I realize it more than ever why it’s important.

Fabulously Broke wrote a great article about the wage gap between men and women and how negotiating your salary plays a huge role.  You should really check it out.

I thought I’d focus on my personal experience with salary negotiations in this post.

My Story

When I was in my last year of university, I had 2 job offers.  I was a new grad, I was ecstatic that there was someone who wanted to hire me.  One company (A) offered me a base a salary of $50,000 but it was based out of the west coast, and my current company (B) offered me $48,000 was based in my home city.

Research, Research, Research

I talked to my professor and mentor at the time, and asked him what range I should be expecting for a starting salary. He gave me a range of $50,000 to $55,000.

I talked to my classmates who were looking to work in the same field and asked how much they were getting paid and their compensation package.

$50,000 was the median answer with 2/3 weeks of vacation.


I negotiated with B.  I spoke with the principal and told them from speaking with my professors and colleagues in the industry, a starting salary of between $50,000 to $55,000 was fair with 3 weeks of vacation a year.

The principal I was speaking with said he would discuss with his boss and get back to me.  He got back to me said he could not offer me 3 weeks of vacation as that was a seniority thing and it would be unfair to current staff.  Instead of a starting salary of $50,000, they offered a signing bonus of $2,000 and the same $48,000 salary.

I took their offer.

Lessons Learned

Be keen but do not show all your cards.  For another application, I let it slip that I wasn’t too keen on moving out west and the firm that was very interested at first, dragged their feet in getting me my offer and contract papers.  Show your cards when it works to advantage only – such as A is willing to pay me more and offer better benefits.

A signing bonus should not be in lieu of a better starting salary.  Your starting salary is the base of which all your raises will be bench marked against, so obviously a higher starting salary will result in bigger raises (the dollar amount).  If there is a salary freeze one year, you’ll actually be paid less than in your first year (no bonus).

People remember you for negotiating.  The principal who hired me is currently my manager.  2 years later, when we were discussing my performance he reminded me that I negotiated for my salary and that stood out to him.  It took him aback since he thought that as a new grad, I should have been “grateful” for a job offer, but it also made him think that I was going to be able to interact well with clients since I was able to stand up for myself.

Prepare and practice how you will say this.  Saying things out loud is very different than having things in my head.  When I say things out loud for the first time, it usually comes out less clear than how I had thought it.  Try to be concise, factual and have research/proof to back up what your are saying.


Practice makes perfect.  It’s hard the first time, and maybe you won’t get it quite right – like me.  But it gets so much easier the next time, and the time after that.

I think it’s the same approach for women and men, but I feel that whereas for guys, their first instinct is to negotiate, for women, our first instinct to accept.  Maybe it goes back to how women are generally more “nurturing” and don’t like confrontation.

But if we don’t’ stand up for ourselves (man or woman), who will?  I want to be compensated fairly so that I can properly take care of myself, my parents and my future family – what can be more nurturing than that? 🙂

What are some of your tips for salary negotiations?  Please share your lessons learned!



Filed under Career