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Monday-Friday: 10 am–12 pm and 1–4 pm

Fernando, Gihan S
Assistant Vice Provost

Butler Pavilion, Room 5th Floor on a map

Career Center 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016-8033-8011 United States

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The Negotiation Game

Would you throw away $2,500? Job seekers unknowingly lose money every day by accepting the first salary offer they receive.

There is almost always room for negotiation, and the game begins at the first mention of money. Also, consider negotiating other areas of your offer, such as starting date, flexible work schedule, loan forgiveness, relocation expenses, technology and equipment, or professional development funding.

Rule Number One: Know the salary ranges for your industry and position type

Research salaries for your field, level of experience, and geographic region through Web sites such as, Glassdoor, Indeed, and

Politely inquire about average salaries when networking or conducting informational interviews.

Review salary guides available in the Career Center library.

Understanding money and finances can boost your confidence when you engage in salary negotiation. Check out these financial literacy resources from AU’s Financial Aid Office to learn more.

Rule number Two: Avoid discussing salary until you have a job offer

Politely avoid the question or turn it back to them: “I’d really like to hear more about the opportunity before we discuss salary.” “Although salary is an important factor, it’s not my main motivator, so I’m flexible in that regard.” “Is there an established range for the position?”

If an employer insists that you give a salary requirement, provide a wide range and let them know you are flexible: “My understanding is that professionals in this field and at this level typically earn $43,000 to $48,000. My salary needs are comparable and I would be happy to discuss them further when an offer is extended.”

Rule number three: When the offer comes, be enthusiastic, but don’t be hasty

Convey your appreciation for the offer and continued enthusiasm for the organization and position, and feel comfortable asking for a day or two to consider the offer.

Fully understand what is being offered and consider requesting your offer in writing; employers are generally willing to e-mail details. Weigh the entire package, invite input from trusted advisors, make an informed decision, and prepare your response.

Check out this video from LinkedIn Learning (sign in through the AU portal): "Understanding Your Compensation and Benefits."

Rule Number Four: If you choose to negotiate, prepare your counteroffer

Negotiate your salary according to the skills and contributions you’ll bring to the organization – not according to your desired earnings. Highlight your research findings, reiterate your unique qualifications, and prepare a response such as: “I believe that a salary of $46,000 plus your generous benefits package is more in line with the skills and experience that I bring to this position.”

If there are multiple aspects of your offer that you need to address, discuss them all in the same conversation.

Practice your counteroffer, similar to a mock interview, with your career advisor or other confidant.

Learn more about negotiating your first salary and check out this step-by-step negotiation guide.