Showing Up for Salary Negotiations

Wendy DeCesare
Latest posts by Wendy DeCesare (see all)

    As a job seeker, much of your focus is on getting a job offer. But what happens once that offer comes in? Negotiating your salary is a critical component in your interview process and can be a make-or-break moment. 

    Employers often expect you to negotiate your offer, but don’t assume making it to the negotiation table means they cannot rescind the offer of employment. How you navigate this conversation is crucial to building an effective relationship with your future employer. It signals how you feel about your worth in this role, what you value within the compensation package and how you will handle essential conversations in the organization.

    You want this to be a win-win for you and the organization. Remember that you’ll be engaging with both hiring managers and HR professionals, so be prepared to speak with others beyond your initial interview. HR professionals are typically trained in navigating these conversations, so how will you bring your best and reinforce your value? The following steps will help you show your value in the salary negotiation!

    Preparation Increases Confidence

    The salary negotiation conversation is not only about how you feel, but also about the perception of confidence by others. Do you know how to communicate your self-confidence effectively? One note: confidence should not be confused with arrogance. Here is an article from Glassdoor that discusses powerful language for salary negotiations. Between preparing thoroughly and using the right language, you are sure to present a confident delivery.

     Research is Key

    #1. Your approach to the salary negotiation requires an understanding of your worth and what outcome you want from the negotiation. You will need to define the following for yourself:

    • o What is the value of your skills for this organization? How experienced are you, how unique are your skills and how much impact will your strengths bring to the role?
      Take the time to research salaries for similar skillsets and write down what you learn.
    • o  What aspects of the compensation package are most important to you? Remember base salary is only one piece of the puzzle; there may be other items to negotiate in the total package – time off, health insurance, signing bonuses, performance bonuses, retirement plans, stock options, relocation costs and other creative compensation elements.
      Identify your top three priorities and negotiate to prioritize those in your final compensation package.

    #2. The second key component to your research is knowing the current market value for the role. Salaries vary based on location so ensure you are focusing on where the position is located to get the most accurate information.
    Research average salaries for the role based on your location and average salaries for this organization using sites like,, and LinkedIn.

    Wish, Want, Walk

    This is a phrase coined by Meggie Palmer, Founder and CEO of PepTalkHer.  This is a powerful concept to be sure you are accepting roles that align with your value and support your career growth.

    • o The Wish number is on the high end, the figure you wish you could get but is a stretch. Don’t discount your wishes – go for it!
    • o The Want figure is well within your range and is the number you should be getting paid based on your current value.
    • o The Walk figure is one that you will not accept. It is the number in which you walk away from the offer to find better alignment with your value.

    If you are prepared, have done your research and understand your priorities, it will allow you to have clearly defined and realistic Wish, Want, and Walk numbers.

    Negotiating salaries can be nerve wracking, but you don’t have to do it alone. Hire Heroes USA is here to assist you.  If you’re a current client, simply reach out to your Transition Specialist for advice or to be connected with a professional mentor in your field. You can also use your MyTrak portal to watch informational sessions such as, “Prepare for Success: Interviewing and Salary Negotiations” for more information.

    Wendy DeCesare is the California Area Manager for Hire Heroes USA. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.