Job Negotiation Tips and Suggestions

Negotiation photo

We are in job search season and many people will be receiving offers for jobs. Then what? Then you negotiate. Here are 23 tips to consider as you anticipate receiving such an offer. I welcome your counteroffer (i.e., feedback, critique, questions, and additional tips).

Thanks to Laurie Berry, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Brandi Hephner LaBanc, and many other people who shared their experience and expertise with me.

Tip #1 – Start thinking about what you want and need before getting the offer.

Tip #2 – Do research on position, institution, units, etc. Most public institutions must make the salaries of employees public.

Tip #3 – Know what you will walk away from, be it salary, benefits, responsibility, etc.

Tip #4 – Remember that negotiation is not about making demands, it is about engaging in a conversation about your confidence in your ability to contribute. Be prepared to talk about that.

Tip #5 – You have most influence when you have the offer, but have not accepted.

Tip #6 – Just as you role play for interviews, you should role play negotiation with a tough negotiator.

Tip #7 – Even if you get nothing additional during the process of negotiation, you will have communicated confidence and self-worth to your new boss.

Tip #8 – Even if you get nothing additional, you have set up the conversation for next year’s performance appraisal.

Tip #9 – When negotiating on the phone put pictures of significant others and children in front of you and negotiate for them.

Tip #10 – Negotiation is not just about salary. It can include benefits, moving expenses, professional development funds, technology items and tools, time off, grad school, title, scope of responsibility, start date, vacation days, timetables for review and promotion, resources for the division/units, administrative assistant, flex time, research funding, extra responsibilities, additional units, training for staff, another visit before accepting, a job for your partner, time off for grad school, etc.

Tip #11 – Get handshake deals in writing (or send a follow-up email detailing the agreement) because the person could leave.

Tip #12 – Virtually all supervisors hold some back assuming a counter offer. If you do not counter offer you are leaving money on table.

Tip #13 – When you ask for more, be prepared for the silence. You must let THEM break it.

Tip #14 – Self-doubt and negative self-talk is powerful even in experienced professionals. Be aware of it.

Tip #15 – Irrational fear #1: “They will withdraw the offer if I ask for more.” No, the worst is they’ll say “no.”

Tip #16 – Irrational fear #2: “They will think I am greedy.” No, they won’t. They expect you to ask for more.

Tip #17 – Irrational fear #3: “They won’t like me, if I negotiate.” Actually, they probably won’t even remember that you negotiated.

Tip #18 – Remember that being the negotiator making the offer is a skill some people don’t have.  You may need to lead the conversation.

Tip #19 – Don’t accept the job in the first offer conversation. Express gratitude and excitement and ALWAYS ask to think it over.

Tip #20 – Don’t apologize before making counteroffer.

Tip #21 – Don’t nod head in agreement in any face-to-face conversation when discussing offer. Remain still. Fight the inclination to be overly kind.

Tip #22 – You do not have to be aggressive and competitive; you can create a collaborative conversation where you are both trying to get to the same point.

Tip #23 – Do your due diligence. Write everything down and compare apples to apples when you have offers from multiple institutions.

These tips don’t work if you don’t negotiate, just as all the planning for a cruise goes to waste if you don’t get on the ship. So, as Julie P-K says, “Get on the boat!”

Follow me on Twitter: @pglove33

For the whole job search story, get my book Job Searching in Student Affairs: Strategies to Land the Position YOU WantSeriously, it will be the best $9.99 you spend this week!


  1. When you do your research to determine an ideal salary, don’t just examine the salaries of your new peers/colleagues, but also research their educational level and experience (try institutional websites and LinkedIn). If you have more of either, you have an argument to make as to why you deserve a higher salary.

  2. Excellent tips, Patrick! Negotiation is a tough skill to master and our natural urges (to be nice, to not talk about money, etc) make it even harder. These are helpful for all of us — even the seasoned pros. Thanks! Corlisse

  3. There is one important aspect that you should recommend before negotiating a counter offer. Make sure that the items you are attempting to negotiate are within the culture of the institution. For example, if no one at the institution has guaranteed development funds, perhaps it would be wise to not attempt to negotiate for them. Also, a clearly defined time off policy would suggest that also not being a special request. Finally, don’t make the counter offer sound like an ultimatum. Disregard for researching institution culture and using an ultimatum can in fact make the irrational fear #1 listed in tip #15 become a reality.

    • Chris, I certainly agree with the spirit of your post; however, even though prof devt funds are not guaranteed, I think asking for them is okay. The answer may very well be no, but maybe no one has asked for them before. I came to an institution that had no history of people involved in professional organizations. I asked for support and got it. I absolutely agree with not making ANYTHING sound like an ultimatum. Ideally, the negotiation should be a conversation about needs and anticipated contributions. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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