Tips for Successful Negotiations

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  • Do your research. Whether you receive a salary range with the job post or offer or you are researching publicly available salary data, be sure that you know what is a reasonable salary for the job in question.
  • Clarify who you should speak to about your compensation package. At some institutions this will be a person in the library and at other it will be someone in human resources. Be sure you are clear on who has the authority before negotiating.
  • Focus on facts. Explain your requests by reference to other libraries, other personnel in the same library, your educational background, and your experience.
  • Have a plan.
    • What is your dream compensation package?
    • What would you be willing to accept? What would prompt you to reject the job?
    • What is your top priority in the negotiation?
  • Ask for everything at once. If you want changes to the salary, job duties, title, and vacation days, for example, ask for all of these at once and be prepared to give one (or more) up to achieve your top priority goal.
  • Be prepared for confrontation. While negotiation should always be professional and not argumentative, it does represent a level of assertiveness and confrontation that can feel awkward or uncomfortable for some job applicants. If you feel uncomfortable, practice with a friend, family member, or mentor in advance.

Do Not

  • Make assumptions. Once you have an offer, ask any relevant questions before you start negotiation and definitely before you accept an offer.
  • Be afraid of silence. Negotiation can take time and sometimes this might even mean (potentially awkward) pauses in a conversation. Don’t rush to fill the conversational void and don’t feel you must accept an offer simply because they need to stop to think about your counter offer.
  • Expect to receive everything you request. Often the process of negotiation will involve multiple back and forth volleys. Therefore, it can be good to ask for more than your minimum acceptable terms when you make your initial request.
  • Accept until you have received all the information you need. Once you accept the offer, it will be difficult or impossible to re-start negotiations, so be sure that you have asked about everything before accepting an offer and feel free to ask for it in writing if it is otherwise unclear.

Advice to Keep in Mind

  • You can negotiate more than salary. Other possible items for negotiation include:
    • Job title
    • Job duties
    • Job Status (i.e., Staff vs. Librarian; NonFaculty vs. Faculty)
    • Relocation funds
    • Professional development support
    • Vacation time
    • Retirement contributions (potentially)
    • Office space/equipment/set up (i.e., private office, laptop, ergonomic consultation, etc.)
    • Research support (mostly in the case of tenure track positions)
    • Stock Options/Restricted Shares/ESOPs/Profit Sharing (in a corporate setting)
    • Library resources
  • You can negotiate any time your job changes, not just when you are hired for a new position. If you are asked to take on significant new responsibilities (such as management, supervision, or work in a new functional area), you can also negotiate new terms at this time. Even if more money isn’t in the cards, you can ask for a change of title, one time or recurring professional development support, or removal of some of your other job duties.
  • Some of the tips and mindsets relevant to negotiation can also be helpful in other settings, such as when requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability.
  • If you are negotiating changes to an existing job, there may be supports or resources available for you. Check to see if there are HR, union, or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources available that will be relevant.
  • Negotiation is fairly common. While some institutions may not have much flexibility for negotiation, it is rare that simply asking for changes to your compensation package will result in a job being revoked.