Salary Negotiation Do’s and Don’ts for Job-Seekers

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Here are the keys to successful job-search salary negotiation. Job-seekers who follow these simple rules and guidelines (key do’s and don’ts) should achieve success in this importantly strategic tool of job-hunting. But remember, all negotiation carries risk.

  • Do make sure you’ve done your research on the salary you should expect for the position you’re seeking. And do use sources such as our Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tools and Resources for Job-Seekers.
  • Don’t bring up salary before the employer does. And do delay salary negotiation for as long as possible (until you know exactly what the position entails).
  • Do be aware of your strengths and achievements. And do be sure to demonstrate the value you’ll bring to the employer.
  • Do let the employer make the first salary offer. And do, if asked, say you expect a salary that is competitive with the market — or give a salary range that you find acceptable.
  • Don’t inflate your current earnings just to get a higher salary offer.
  • Don’t feel obligated to accept the first salary offer. And do negotiate salary if the offer made is inadequate.
  • Do thank the employer for the offer when it is made, but don’t try to negotiate right after the offer is made. Do take the time to consider all factors before making any job offer decisions.
  • Don’t get overly aggressive in negotiating the salary you want.
  • Don’t just focus on salary. Do look at the entire compensation package.
  • Do try to obtain other concessions (shorter review time, better title, better workspace) or benefits (bonuses, vacation time) if you aren’t successful at negotiating a salary you want.
  • Don’t enter salary negotiations as part of an ego trip or part of a game.
  • Don’t accept the first acceptable salary offer you receive if you’re not sure about the job or the company.
  • Do get the offer in writing.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of He is also founder of and He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at) Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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