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Tips for Negotiating Your Salary During the Hiring Process

By Higher Education Recruitment Consortium
March 30, 2017
An image of a woman with her fingers crossed.

Did you know that when you start a new job, there’s a huge chance you’re already leaving money on the table?

If you’ve never negotiated your salary before accepting a job offer, reconsider your strategy. According to Fast Company, 49 percent of job seekers don’t bother to negotiate for a higher salary. estimates that the average professional loses out on $500,000 or more in earnings over their lifetime by failing to negotiate salaries.

When it comes to higher education, more than 49% of higher education professionals forego salary negotiations in job searches. Institutions can be a mixed bag in terms of how much they value their employees, and it can be hard to accept that many sports coaches are the highest-paid public employees in entire states while tenure-track professorships are becoming rarer. These realities can definitely put you in a difficult place if you are trying to negotiate for an adjunct or department associate position.

Despite these challenges, you can still negotiate your salary and ensure your salary doesn't leave with you buyer's remorse. Here are some tips to keep in mind when negotiating your salary.

Quote an Exact Number and Not a Range

After you’ve researched salary figures using reputable data sources (like the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and accounted for how the national average varies based on your credentials and state of residence, you may come up with a wide range of numbers. Avoid telling your prospective employer a range, such as $40,000 to $50,000. Instead, provide a very exact figure, like $46,250. It may not roll off the tongue as easily as that range of salaries you came up with, but it shows you’ve done your research and aren’t going to back down quickly and take the hiring manager’s first or second offer. Arm yourself with plenty of salary data from trustworthy sources to show the interviewer you are knowledgeable about standard higher education salaries and worthy of compensation commensurate with your experience.

Follow the Two Percent Rule

Add at least two percent to the absolute minimum salary that you would accept for the job. Median rent goes up every year, as does the cost of food, gas, public transportation, and virtually every other necessity. Why shouldn’t your salary?

Be Confident that you are Worth More

As a well-educated professional, you deserve to be paid for your hard-earned degrees, experience, work ethic, and other credentials. Do not let fear lead you to take the very first offer that an institution gives you. Employers should expect new hires to negotiate salaries. In fact, not standing up for yourself during the hiring process could potentially give the employer an invitation to overwork and underpay you in the future.

If you find the prospect of negotiation to be scary, ask a friend or professional peer to rehearse with you before your job interview. If you come prepared, you can leave that interview knowing you’re earning what you’re worth.


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