Know Your Worth: 5 Tips on Salary Negotiation

When I was offered my first salaried position, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know I could negotiate my salary. I didn’t know I could question why I only got a twelve days of paid time off that year. I didn’t even know what a benefits package was.

Vicki Salemi, Career Coach

Photo courtesy of Stefanie Mauro

While attending the FindSpark Find & Follow Your Passion conference at NYU, I had the opportunity to sit in on a session with a human resources expert who provided the audience with a list of tips on how to survive working in New York City. “There is often money left on the table,” said Vicki Salemi, author and career coach. “You can always ask for more.”

Salemi continued to give us a series of valuable insight on salary negotiation, facts I wish I knew when I accepted my first position a couple of years ago.

Here are the top five tips salary negotiation tips I learned at the FindSpark conference:

1. Be comfortable talking about money.

Money is always a touchy subject. You never want to ask for it. You never seem to have enough in your wallet.

The reality is that money actually does make your world go round. If you want to live in this city, you need to know how much money you need to make to live the life you want.

What’s more nerve racking, asking a HR specialist about your salary or your inability to pay your bills? Think about it.

2. Learn to negotiate everything.

Negotiating skills are a must no matter what you do. Salemi suggested that we start small.

Try getting a drink with your sandwich at no additional cost from your local deli. Ask the cab driver if you can get 20 blocks for a quarter of the price he’s suggesting. The worst thing they can say is “No.”

This skill will later come in handy when discussing your salary. If they tell you that in this position you will make $50,000 per year ask for $60,000. They may meet you in the middle with $55,000. Again, what’s the worst they can say?

3. Never give them a salary request up front.

When filling out job applications, make sure you avoid answering this question at all costs. Write in “To Be Determined.”

When asked in an interview, say that you are currently focused on the opportunity and you want to wait to talk about salary.

If you need a resource to help you find out your range, and are great resources.

Never ever accept a salary on the spot. Ask them for a deadline. Take your time researching the position and then give them an answer.

4. Ask questions about additional salaried benefits.

Be sure to know what you want in your benefit package. Ask about corporate matching opportunities, paid time off, and health insurance. Some jobs even reimburse you for your gym membership.

5. If you really want to know, ask your network.

You don’t have to ask your friends how much they make. You just want a range.

If your friends aren’t helpful, contact the company before you apply and ask to go on an informational interview. This not only allows you to learn a salary range based on your experience, but it also gives you an opportunity to learn about the company culture and see if it’s really the place you want to spend a majority of your weekdays.

What negotiation methods have you found helpful? Share them in the comments!

Meagen Hagans is a New York City based media relations professional specializing in health/wellness, pharmaceutical, and nonprofit communications. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

About the Author

Meagen Hagans is a graduate student at New York University focusing in public relations and corporate communications. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University. Hagans currently holds over four years of work experience in marketing and communications from such organizations as the American Cancer Society, Chartway Federal Credit Union, and the Diversity Theater Company where she specialized in field operations as well as managing internal and external communications. She currently serves as the Development Intern at LearningSpring school who's focus is to educate children K-8 that fall on the autism spectrum. There she assists with communications for all fundraising initiatives as well as the creation of external publications such as the bi-annual newsletter (available upon request). If you want to reach out to Meagen feel free to contact her by email at

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