Despite the economic downturn, many of you are still receiving job offers and we want you to be prepared. When you receive an offer, don’t forget to negotiate your salary and benefits! You and your skills are valuable to employers, even amid a pandemic and time of constrained budgets. Salary negotiation may feel daunting but remember that negotiation is an expected part of every job offer. No employer will be surprised when a potential employee negotiates the starting salary or benefits. While not all organizations will be able to meet your negotiation requests, it is still important to remember your worth and advocate for the value you can provide. See our top tips below. 

  • Enter any negotiation with clear goals in mind. Once an offer has been made, remember the leverage you now have. The employer has made it clear that they want YOU for the job. Now, they will be eager to “close the deal” by trying to win your acceptance.  
  • Boster your requests with proof of your past impact. When negotiating for higher pay, be prepared to articulate why your skills should be worth a higher salary. Explain the ways that you meet and/or exceed the required and preferred qualifications. What additional capabilities and proficiencies would you bring to the role? Perhaps it’s an additional skillset, issue expertise, or transferable skills from a previous position. Negotiate by making your case with evidence of your past impact. 
  • Do your research. Show your knowledge of the compensation structure within the organization offering you the position, including pay bands and market value. If there are structured pay bands, do the math to identify quartiles within that range to arrive at a number you deserve. Government salaries are public information, so a quick internet search will help you find what you need. For nonprofit organizations, if you can’t find information on websites like PaysaPayscale, or Glassdoor, look at watchdog sites to see the top reported salaries of the executives (listed on IRS Tax Form 990) to get a sense of the type of resources the organization might have. 
  • Be prepared for some back-and-forth. Negotiation is a conversation, use your interpersonal skills to gauge when and how to push your point of view and when to hold back and sit in silence. For these reasons, it is best to negotiate in conversation – over the phone, or a video call – rather than in writing. 

Discussing salary can be difficult, but transparency about pay and value will help our society move forward toward more equitable and just compensation practices. Wage gaps and pay disparities continue to exist across gender and racial lines, and while it is recommended that every person negotiate their salary, it is especially critical for women and Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color to fight for what they are worth.  

Questions? Reach out to Director of Career Development Shannon Merchant at