This is “How to Be More Comfortable When Negotiating for a Position”, section 10.2 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0). For details on it (including licensing), click here.

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10.2 How to Be More Comfortable When Negotiating for a Position

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn how to remove the emotional element to negotiating in order to master this skill.
  2. Understand that the more offers you have, the easier it will be to negotiate for a salary increase or any other component of the offer you would like to increase.

Many individuals are highly uncomfortable when the subject of salary or compensation arises. Why? Because money evokes emotion in a lot of people and whenever emotion is involved, rational thought tends to wane.

Money, to a large extent, dictates your style of living. If you are reading this book as a college student, the starting salary you receive may determine whether you will have to move back home with your parent(s), if that is even an option, or if you will have an apartment with one or more roommates. People get emotional about lifestyle issues.

To decrease the stress related to your living expenses (whether you move back home or have a place of your own), know your expenses, including rent, utilities, food, transportation, clothes, gifts, credit card debt, student loans, and so forth. If you’ve done your research, will the position for which you are aiming cover these expenses? Is there a match? Is there a huge disconnect? It’s best to review your expenses and think about them sooner rather than later.

We need to make rational decisions, so we need to remove the emotional component from the negotiation process, and it’s very possible to do so. If you have followed each of the steps in the job search process, you should have more confidence in the process. You should have a plethoraA wide variety and a large amount. of job search activity, no matter what the state of the economy, that should result in multiple offers. Knowing that you will have multiple offers should calm you, even if you are the most nervous or emotional individual.

Practice is a theme that has been present in every chapter of this book, and negotiation is no different. Meet with career services to practice negotiating until you feel very comfortable. After role-playing three or four or five times, your emotion should be kept in check and shouldn’t interfere with the conversation. You may also practice with a friend, but try to get as much advice from a professional as you can.

Remember to conduct in-depth research to ensure you have a clear idea of what the salary levels should be. There should be no surprises at this stage if you’ve conducted the proper research, which includes speaking to career services, speaking to your network of peers, and conducting various salary surveys. A good source of starting salaries can be researched on the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) website. NACE also has a Salary Calculator tool that enables you to enter the state in which you reside, the region, and the appropriate occupational categories (ranging from business to life, physical, and social sciences, to the arts, health care, sales, forestry, construction, installation and repair occupations, to transportation and material-moving occupations).

Another tool you may decide to use is GetRaised (, which helps determine if you are being paid the right amount relative to the job you are doing. For college students seeking entry-level jobs, you can still use this tool by entering “one year” in the number of years you’ve been working in this particular job, and then enter all the other information asked (where you work, the title of the job for which you are applying, and so forth). This tool will give you the competitive salary for this position. Of course, you will have zero experience, versus one year, but at least it gives you an idea of the salary range you should be seeking. It’s a very useful tool for experienced job seekers, especially because it will give you the script you can use to negotiate for higher compensation. GetRaised is just one tool of many, so research various tools available to you.

Key Takeaways

  • The more activity you have in your job search, the better your negotiating ability.
  • Posture is everything in negotiation. If you have an offer from a company and you are negotiating with another, that sense of nervousness and desperation is minimized or obliterated!
  • Research is key! Know the starting salaries for the various jobs you are targeting.


  1. Pair up with a classroom buddy and create a hypothetical job and offer. Then take turns negotiating from a salary of $45,000 to $50,000. State why you think $50,000 is the most appropriate level of offer.
  2. Switch with your same classroom buddy and negotiate once more with the answer to your salary request being no. Position yourself to ask for one other component in the offer.
  3. If at all possible, women should pair up with men and men should pair up with women.