Pay Negotiation for Non-Dummies


At my first-ever real job, I was able to negotiate my hourly pay from the minimum wage up to $11.05 an hour. How, you ask? While I would love to say that I relied on my good looks and charm, I would be lying; instead, I used tried-and-true negotiation tricks. As a college student getting paid by the hour, you may not realize that pay negotiation isn’t just for older adults with salaries. This is your reality check— and your potential paycheck. So, after receiving a job offer, internally gloat about getting a job, and get ready to negotiate using these tips.

Contain your excitement: Getting a job offer may make you want to jump out of your chair with joy, do a little jig, and shout, “I’ll take it!” Refrain from doing so. Not only will you look silly, but your ability to negotiate will be diminished. Instead, say, “I believe this job sounds perfect for me, but I believe my experience and skills merit $X an hour.” Then, wait. Stay strong and stay quiet until the hiring manager speaks. Perhaps they will present another counter-offer or accept your proposition— either way, it is important to allow them to consider your position before you speak again. More often than not, the hiring manager of a company will offer a pay rate with room for negotiation. Even if the offer is higher than you expected, don’t reject negotiation as an option.

Come prepared: How will you know that your experience and skills are worth $X an hour? Research. As a college student, the thought of doing more research might make you cringe, but a few hours of your time will pay off in the long run— literally. Having an idea about the worth of your skills and the average pay for the position you are applying to is essential. Start out your research on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website ( for some basic information about the average pay for various positions in your area, and come armed with data about what is and isn’t reasonable to ask for.

Have options: Apply for multiple jobs so that you will be able to compare and weigh the benefits of all your offers. Not only will you feel more confident having many alternatives, but you can use this to your advantage during negotiation. After being offered a position at my first job, I was able to say, “This company is offering me $11/hour. What can you do for me?” All of a sudden, the company was more than willing to offer more than the minimum.

Know your skills: Whenever you walk into an interview or a meeting with a potential manager, have the attitude that the company would be lucky to have you working for them. Confidence is key to negotiation. Understanding your unique skill set and attributes is important, but having the ability to sell your skills to the hiring manager you are negotiating with is crucial to successful negotiation. Practice clearly communicating why your skills would be valuable to the employer and assist you in succeeding at your job.


Negotiation isn’t just for older people anymore. You, too, can and should negotiate your wages with your next employer. After all, the worst that could happen would be getting paid the original offer. Don’t be a dummy— negotiate your pay.

Written by Career Peer Andie




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