Negotiating Effectively

March 16, 2023
Four people at a business meeting, two are shaking hands.

The Graduate Center’s Career Services recently hosted Diana Charbonneau, President of the Tucson Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), for two great workshops on establishing salary, understanding the gender pay gap, and negotiating effectively.

Charbonneau began by explaining how the gender pay gap results in women being paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. We know that the gender pay gap increases when we factor in race, age, and education,[i] and it affects individuals who hold undergraduate and graduate degrees.  We also know that women are much less likely to negotiate than men, and their salaries suffer as a result.[ii]

All of this information points to the importance of negotiation and of determining salary goals before the job interview. But how do you establish your salary goals?  First, you need to know the value of your contributions to the position and be able to articulate that value to an employer.  Next, you can research salary databases such as, Indeed, or LinkedIn Salary to learn the salaries for similar job titles in similar markets.  (It’s important to understand the cost of living in different job markets and to understand that this is different from the cost of labor, which is what companies actually spend on their employees.)  You also need to determine your budget for overall living expenses.  All of these factors will help you establish your target salary range. 

Now that you have your salary goals, you’re ready to negotiate. Well, almost ready:  Be sure to get the job offer in writing before you start the negotiation process.  Then, carefully review the offer and make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions and your total proposed compensation.  Keep in mind that compensation includes more than a salary; benefits such as insurance, retirement plans, and professional development can add quite a bit of value to the total compensation.  Next, create a list of things that you’d like to negotiate. 

Ok, now we can negotiate—  just don’t call it that.  Invite the employer to a conversation, and begin by expressing enthusiasm for the job, company, and/or interview process.  Remain positive, and treat this like a conversation with some give and take.  Be prepared to articulate your value to the company and to explain your research to back up your negotiating requests.  Once you have the employer’s final offer, thank them and ask for the offer in writing. Lastly, provide them with a reasonable and prompt response timeline.

All of these steps can seem challenging, and they’re not familiar ground for many job seekers.  If you missed our terrific workshops, you can find resources on the Graduate Center Career Services’ website, and the AAUW offers a free online course. Negotiating often requires some practice, so if you’d like to try it in a risk-free environment, schedule on Handshake an appointment with a Graduate Career Consultant at the Graduate Center.  If you need to see someone quickly for negotiating assistance, contact Dr. Shawn Nordell, Associate Director of Graduate Career Services at