Senior Series 2024 | Salary Negotiation: The Worth of Your Work

Negotiating Your Salary: Handshake Image

You did it! You wowed your interviewers with your cover letter, work history, and interview. They want you to join their team. It’s exciting to be paid for your work, but is the pay worth it? Too many people don’t get paid what they’re worth for one simple reason – they don’t ask! 

Salary negotiations are not just common, they’re expected. One survey from Career Builder found 53% of employers are willing to negotiate salary for entry level workers. However, only 42% of workers aged 18-34 negotiate for better pay when offered a job. Additionally, pay inequities persist. According to PayScale’s The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2020 women earn $0.81 for every dollar a man earns. Women of Color, meanwhile, earn $0.75 for every dollar a White man earns. 

So now you know you should negotiate your salary. Let’s look at how to do it. 

Do Your Research 

Assess The Market 

The Vermont Department of Labor provides information on salaries across various occupations and locations. You can also use crowd-sourced services like Glassdoor, Payscale, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook to get an idea of the salary range for similar jobs in your location. Research salaries for similar positions in the organization (some institutions even publish salary data).  

Determine Your Cost of Living 

According to, Cost of Living continues to increase across the country, so it’s important to create a monthly budget to determine what salary you will need. The amount of money needed to live comfortably can vary widely from city to city. NerdWallet offers a free salary comparison calculator. You might also consider using UVMConnect to reach out to an alum who lives in that city for a firsthand account of the costs.  

Understand Your Compensation 

The total value of your compensation package is greater than the dollar amount of your salary. Do some research to understand other benefits, such as health insurance, paid time off, 401k matching, gym membership, etc. Check out this guide to common benefits. These benefits might also be up for negotiation.  

Set a Range 

Your range will be based on the market, cost of living, total compensation, and your worth. Reflect on your skills and acumen that will meet the needs of the organization and your years of experience. Weigh these against the minimum requirements for the position; the more relevant skills and experience you have the stronger your case is. As this is a negotiation, approach the conversation with a pay range you’re willing to accept instead of a hard number. 

Be ready when the call comes, know your range and be ready to negotiate. 

Salary Negotiation for Women 

As vexing as it is, wage inequity still exists. Our society still has a long way to go in recognizing equal pay for equal work. The truth about salary negotiation for black women offers 5 useful pro tips from

Negotiate the Offer 

Once an offer is made (and if you are indeed interested in the job), be sure to demonstrate enthusiasm. After thanking the employer, ask if there is room for negotiation.  

  • If the answer is yes, you will likely be asked what salary you have in mind. Remember the range you determined. Start the conversation at your high end knowing that they might not meet you there. Use your research to mention the skills and experience that you would bring to the organization as a rationale for the salary you request. You may also want to think about “value added” qualities – do you have experiences and skills that could enhance the role and overall impact to the employer? Be prepared for some back and forth. 
  • If the compensation is firm, make sure you understand the whole benefits package. You might ask about merit-based increases, room for growth in the company, professional development opportunities, schedule flexibility, or the possibility for remote work – these are additional ways that you can negotiate compensation. 
  • If you’re happy with the offer, feel free to accept on the spot! If you’re unsure, thank the employer and ask for some time to consider the offer. They will likely ask for your decision within 3-5 business days. You may find it helpful to talk through the offer with a trusted source (eg. parents, mentor). Remember: it’s ok to say no to an offer that just doesn’t meet your needs. 
  • Getting agreements in writing during a salary negotiation is essential for clarity, legal protection, and accountability. It prevents misunderstandings, serves as a legal record, and establishes clear terms for both parties, fostering transparency and trust.
  • Also: do you have more than one job offer? Check out this article from on Tips for handling multiple job offers
  • Want more? Check out these 37(!) strategies for how to approach negotiations

Final Thoughts 

Like interviewing, negotiating is something we don’t normally do – practicing is always a good idea. And remember, negotiating is always in your best interest. Future raises will probably be based on a percentage of your current pay, so if you start off at a lower number, your salary will grow more slowly. A successful negotiation is a win-win. 

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