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How to Prepare for Salary Negotiations in Your Job Search

negotiating compensation

The ability to negotiate fair compensation with an employer, one of the most important skills besides confidence that you can bring to the interview as a job seeker is an understanding of your market value.

This is difficult for a number of reasons. We’re not used to talking money in today’s workplace. And with an increasingly uncertain job market, it can seem daunting to approach a company around the topic of compensation.

Brooklyn Resume Studio’s resident career coach and senior resume expert, David Wiacek, shares his tips for navigating salary negotiation conversations to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward in the interview.

BRS: What’s the Best Way to Determine Your Compensation Requirements?

DW: You can find a wealth of compensation and salary research on sites like and, which break out the average pay by skill set, level, and region. Also consider setting up informational interviews to talk to people in the field about what the market pays, compensation trends, and perks. Recruiters can be a great resource for this as well.

Look for individuals who currently work in your target industry or the types of companies you’re going after to get an accurate picture. This can also include former employees – anyone who can provide insight and help you make a more informed decision.

BRS: What Are Some Tips for Negotiating a Job Offer?

DW: Be firm and assert your value – but also be willing to walk away. You can provide a range, but to avoid a low-ball offer. Be prepared with a more exact figure you’re looking for. Do your research, practice your pitch, and don’t be afraid to let them know if the offer doesn’t fit.

If you’re really the number-one choice, the company will often try to negotiate with you over letting an ideal hire walk out the door. While it’s not always in the budget, it affirms your interest in the company and shows that you’re serious about considering their offer.

BRS: If You Have Multiple Offers, How Do You Determine the Best One to Take?

DW: You can consult with your mentors, family, and friends, or industry colleagues. But at the end of the day, you have to be the one to weigh all the factors, including the ones outside of compensation, and make the best decision you can with the information on hand.

Money isn’t the only consideration – aspects like culture, flex work arrangements, benefits, and other perks can significantly impact the overall package value.

Also, consider the growth opportunity. Even if the starting salary is below your target range, look for indicators like how quickly employees climb up the ladder, whether people tend to stay with the company for a long time, and whether raises are a regular part of their review process.

BRS: How Should You Turn Down an Offer You Don’t Want to Accept?

DW: Recruiters are known for ghosting candidates, but avoid being the one to drop communication. Even if it’s not the right opportunity for you, thank them for the positive experience, highlight what you appreciated and learned about the company in the interview process, and be firm, but polite in declining the offer. If you plan to counteroffer with a higher figure, have evidence to back up your compensation request, such as industry research and salary market data.

Never burn your bridges as people move around from company to company. Finally, let them know if you’d be willing to discuss other opportunities down the road if something opens up that’s more closely aligned with your experience level, salary requirements, and skill set.

Being able to negotiate your worth as a candidate is in the best interest of you AND your prospective employer. For you, it ensures that you receive compensation in line with the demand and value of your skills. For a company, it helps secure their investment in hiring you by decreasing the likelihood that you’ll jump ship for a higher-paying offer.

Be informed, prepared, and bold. Take on your salary negotiation conversation with confidence with our career coaching.