Santa Clara University

Career Center

Should I Negotiate, and If So, How?

You are not expected or obligated to negotiate salary. You should not negotiate simply for the sake of negotiating. In most cases, employers hiring undergraduates for entry level positions offer salaries that are pre-determined and seldom negotiable.Your negotiating power will increase as your career progresses. As you build your portfolio of skills and accomplishments, you’ll have more value to offer to an organization. In turn, they’ll be willing to negotiate depending on the demand of your skills and estimated value.


Government and nonprofit employers usually have less room to negotiate salaries. Government salaries are standard based upon education and experience, and publicized on the job announcement. Benefits packages are often very comprehensive and may amount to 20-30% of your salary.


However, there are some factors that play a role in your ability to negotiate your salary as a new college graduate, or even later as an alumnus. Assess your position among these questions when determining whether or not you will negotiate your salary and benefit package.

  • iconQuestions to Consider

  • iconCompensation Package

    Salary is the obvious item to negotiate, but there are sometimes other parts of the compensation package that can be changed to make it a better offer.

  • iconNegotiation

    If you do decide to negotiate the offer, do it in a professional and no-confrontational manner. You do not want to start your employment on a hostile note!

    For help with negotiating, make an appointment at the Career Center. You can also refer to books on negotiation at the Career Center's Resource Library.
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