Color & Control:

Negotiating a salary

Dear Joanna,
After many job interviews, and plenty of help from my Reena job coach through the community participation program Channels, I am  excited to report that I received a job offer for a receptionist position with a local social service agency.

However, the salary is lower than what I believe to be the market rate. I would like to negotiate but I don’t want to Jeapordize the offer or make my new employer angry. I have spent countless months on this job search, and I just want a job. I am tempted to just accept However, I am concerned that I might be resentful after a while. Please advise.
Signed: Salary Blues (SB)  

Dear SB,

Congratulations on your new job. This is exciting news. It’s a complicated topic with many perspectives but experts advise you to negotiate only after you receive a firm job offer!

Although dated, Shapiro (2008) the company wants you, needs you and has chosen you, and this is the one time you can ask for money and benefits. Negotiating will show the company that you know that you are worth it and are not afraid to ask. This will help you enter your new position from a point of strength, solid ground, setting you up for success with key decision makers. However, cautions Shapiro, the way you ask is critical to your success. Prepare a script in advance. I also wonder if you asked if there is room for advancement with this position? If there is growth, then it could be worthwhile to accept and start building your career there rather than discuss the salary.

If you do decide to negotiate, here are some tips:

1. Make sure you know the real market rate for you in this position in your area. Remember that the salary you can command varies, based on where you live and your skills, experience and education. Check out other job postings for receptionist positions on Indeed, LinkedIn and other organizations in the same sector. You can also research salaries on or

2. Express your appreciation to the hiring manager for supporting your higher compensation package offer, before asking to negotiate further; consider ending off the conversation with “I’m thrilled about the additional ten percent; but I was really hoping for X-number of $; is there anything else we can do here?”

3. Prioritize. Determine the top one to three things you will be asking for and go back to the negotiating table no more than twice; negotiate each individual item before moving on to the next.

4. Don’t rush. Keep calm and in control. The hiring manager might try to pressure you to make a quick decision, but take time to consider your options and make a decision you can live with.

5. Be flexible. If you were not able to get extra salary consider more vacation time or another priority on your list by saying something like “Would it be possible to make up the difference in the signing bonus?” You should also be aware when the negotiations are over, the hiring manager’s tone will change. At this point you must decide if you wish to accept the offer.  

Joanna Samuels, MEd, is an adult educator with an expertise in career/job coaching and community/business partnership building.

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