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Are you preparing to negotiate a job offer? Trying to decide how to target the right compensation without undercutting your value or alienating your potential employer? Negotiating a job offer is an art.

There are important elements to consider when negotiating a job offer. Also, there are words you should never, ever use in your vocabulary during the negotiation process. The following guide examines both these things and more, including essential information regarding how to negotiate a counter offer once the discussion has begun.

Negotiating A Job Offer: How To Target Appropriate Compensation

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Understand Your Value

The first step in negotiating a job offer is to understand your value. If you want to receive the salary you desire, you need to know the standard wage for professionals in your role and industry within your region.

Research ahead of time on sites like Glassdoor or Payscale or speak with other professionals in the same industry to see what number you should target. Getting these stats not only gives you a solid number to bring to the negotiation table, but will also tell you whether you are aiming too high or low.

Aim High

While looking at salary statistics or speaking with other individuals in your field, you will probably whittle the numbers down to a solid range. While your automatic response when negotiating a job offer might be to target the middle of that salary range, aim high.

Set a number closer to the higher end of the range rather than the middle. This accomplishes two things. For one, you should never automatically undercut yourself because you can and should receive a top salary.

Second, when negotiating a job offer, the other party will always go down from your initial number. If you start high, you are much more likely to end up at your optimal number. Likewise, if you go too low, you could end up receiving a salary far less than you are worth.

Have A Specific Number In Mind

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Along the same lines, when negotiating a job offer, have a specific number in mind. For instance, if you want $55,660 per year, say that exact number rather than rounding it up to $56,000.

When you have a specific salary in mind rather than a range or rounded number, this shows the employer you have thoroughly researched field stats to assess your market value rather than pulling a number out of thin air.

Set Your Boundaries

That said, part of negotiating a job offer is setting your boundaries. This means you should be amenable to walking away from the negotiating table if the situation requires it.

As you plan your specific salary number, have a point at which you draw the line and leave negotiations if the offer is too low.

Be Confident

A great approach to negotiating a job offer is to be confident. If you walk into the room well-researched with confidence, a smile, and a great attitude, you will start negotiations on a positive note.

Prove Yourself

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Part of negotiating a job offer is being able to prove yourself to the employer, discussing your accomplishments and background that show you deserve the salary you intend to request.

Have ideas for the future you are excited to implement in the new role and discuss times in your work history where you have gone the extra mile.

Look To The Future

Potential employers commonly ask candidates what their present salary is when negotiating a job offer. This is illegal in some regions but still common practice in others.

If you come across this question, it is important to consider your answer carefully to be honest without undermining your position. It is fine to give out your present salary, but swiftly transition to discussing the salary you intend to negotiate, including pertinent details like your market value, responsibilities, and skill set.

9 Things You Should Never Say

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The word “want” should not be a part of your vocabulary when negotiating a job offer. It imbues the sense you feel you are entitled to a certain amount, and can put off a potential employer. You may be more than deserving of a specific number, but this is not the approach to take.

Instead, use your research on your market value to your advantage, discussing what the company needs and how you intend to fulfill those needs. Make negotiating job offer about what you can bring to the company rather than what they owe you.


Using the word “more” in terms of salary is never a good idea. This is where using a specific number is relevant. Rather than saying you “want more”, discuss your exact ideal base salary.


The word “try” could undermine your stance when negotiating a job offer, as it has a passive tone that shows indecisiveness. Never ask a potential employer to “try” to move toward a certain number. Rather, use positive, but firm words to make a point instead of sending you a few steps backwards.


One approach you might be tempted to take when negotiating a job offer is to deal with something “later.” Never wait to take care of all the salary details until after you have accepted the offer. You will have far less wiggle room to negotiate and will be in a much weaker position at that point.


It may seem strange, but “yes” should not be an automatic part of your vocabulary when negotiating a job offer. You hope that you will negotiate your ideal salary and be able to respond with “yes” right away.

However, you should never just say “yes” to an offer, even if it seems fantastic. Consider your options, look at your market value, and come back with a counter offer if need be. The employer should be the party saying “yes”, at which point you can conclude the negotiation process.


Likewise, the word “no” should not be used when negotiating a job offer because it stops effective communication in its tracks. “No” is a negative word and you should only use positive language when at the negotiation table.


Sometimes, negotiating a job offer may feel awkward and uncomfortable, particularly if you have little or no experience doing so. However, avoid saying “sorry”, as this indicates that you are not firm in your negotiating position, and this could cost you considerably.


It is never a good idea to used “desired” in your negotiating language, such as your “desired salary.” Try to focus on what you intend to bring to the company and how that translates to your target number.


As we mentioned previously, if the employer asks your current salary, you should be honest about it but move on quickly to the task at hand. That said, avoid using “currently”, to discuss your present salary.

If you must name the number, so be it, but move on swiftly, identifying how your enhanced responsibilities, skill set, and market value are the relevant factors for your new proposed salary.

Negotiating A Counter Offer

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What Is It And Why Should You Make One?

Counter offers are an important aspect of negotiating a job offer. A counter offer is the responding offer you make to the employer’s offer. You should submit a counter offer if the employer does not offer you a salary that is acceptable based on your market value, skill set, and background.

It is a fact that most professionals do not negotiate a higher salary when being offered a new position. Many individuals are uncomfortable with negotiating a job offer. However, negotiating a counter offer is not only essential to ensuring you receive the salary you require, but employers often expect it.

Planning Your Counter Offer

The same research you did to identify your initial number should come into play when negotiating a counter offer. Know how much you want to make based on industry stats, where your ideal number hits, and at what point you will draw the line and walk away.

What To Expect

Sometimes, negotiating a job offer does not go the way you plan. You might issue a counter offer and the employer is not happy discussing number after number. There might be a specific salary range for the role that does not give the employer much wiggle room.

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Alternatively, negotiations may go smoothly. You could discuss a few numbers and land on the ideal one for you and your new employer. If you are on the fence about submitting a counter offer, consider a few key elements to decide whether it is worth your while or if the offer on the table is good.

Think about the salary discussion that has occurred, the market value for your role, your present salary, and your financial needs. Also consider whether there are other similar positions open and what they offer, including the overarching market for your industry.


Negotiating a job offer is a process that requires patience and clear forethought. If the employer offers you a salary below your expectations, inquire if the employer has any flexibility with the number and identify what other benefits are available that could make up for the discrepancy.

If the benefits are few and the salary is well below your target, you may need to consider walking away. However, it is entirely possible to negotiate the job offer and counter offer that meets your needs and that of your new company. Understand your market value and standard salaries in your industry.

Allow the negotiation process to run its course and do not hurry though it. Identify what matters to you personally and where you have room to budge, so you can negotiate the job offer that meets your needs and propels you forward in your career.

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