By Dave Isbell

(Ed. note: The current post was previously posted on a blog that Dave still owns but no longer uses.)

I often get asked how one can negotiate salary without sounding desperate or greedy. I don’t always get to respond to these comments in writing since so much of my work is done verbally. However, I happened to answer this question via LinkedIn so I thought I would share it here for everyone else who might want one suggestion for how to handle this scenario.

My advice? Don’t be desperate or greedy and you won’t sound that way! Seriously, before you ever show up in that interview room you should know what you have to offer and how that brings value to their business. Once you are in front of that hiring manager, you need to communicate the intersection between your needs and theirs in a way that makes it clear that you not only have the skills to do the job but that you also have a personality, vision, and mission that fits within their corporate culture. If you do this well, then the price tag that they already had in mind to stick on your forehead will get crossed out with a permanent marker so they can write in something higher!

If you are forced to be the first one to throw out a number, it is better to err on the high end because you cannot negotiate up as easily as they can down. In either scenario, I suggest that you check out for some local salary information on your occupation. If you have less than about five years of experience, hover around the “low” range. However, if you’ve been in your field a while, put your finger on the median and create a sensible range to the left and right of it.  But, if you are a super high achiever, with tons of experience and education then use the high salary with a sensible range just above and below it.

If you are truly seeking a collaborative win/win strategy in the negotiation process, both parties will walk away feeling they got what they deserved. In truth, that is really the only way to build a career that is rewarding and meaningful for everyone involved!


Dave Isbell is the Alumni Career Service Coordinator at Michigan State University. He has been a Career Coach since 1999. He is also currently pursuing a Master’s in Social Work/Family Studies at MSU. When he is not working or studying, he is enjoying domestic bliss with his wife and kids, or playing rock music on his bass guitar. He owns, “writes,” and edits He is also the head Twit who tweets from @helpingspartans


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: