Job Seekers

Salary Negotiation: The 7 “Don’ts” [video]

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Salary negotiations can be tough conversations.  The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel.  Watch our video to explore the 7 salary negotiation “don’ts” to avoid, when negotiating a fair salary.

Salary Talk: Your Ultimate Salary Negotiation Guide

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Salary negotiations! Did we scare you? We swear we saw a shiver run up your spine…

During your interview process there will come a point when you must have the salary talk. Only 11% of people are satisfied with their original salary offer (Houston Chronicle), but nearly half (49%) will accept the first offer given to them (CareerBuilder). Without negotiating, you risk getting less than you want, or worse, less than you deserve. Unless you ask, the answer will always be no.

As one of the nation’s leading staffing companies, we secure thousands of jobs for our Ambassadors every week – both permanent and temporary. That means we have thousands of salary negotiations a week!

We’ve compiled a guide to help you through this spine-tingling, life-changing conversation.

First things first…

It’s important to remember that this conversation is not personal, for you or the interviewer. It’s an objective discussion about the necessary exchange of currency for services, it’s just simple math. The organization has a finite salary budget. Even if the organization gives you an appallingly low offer, do not assume that it is malicious.

There will be offers and positions that you will have to walk away from. In other words, it’s just business.


Luck favors the prepared. Don’t let this conversation take you by surprise, walk in feeling prepared and confident.

It’s easy to feel like you have to go into these conversations rigid and aggressive. There’s nothing wrong with asking for what you want, but there’s a lot of things wrong with being a jerk – especially with people you don’t really know. In reality, it’s best to have a balance. Find the sweet spot: be firm, be likable.

Here are a few things to do to prepare for this conversation:

Know where you’re willing to compromise

Ask yourself:

  • What do I value?
  • What am I willing to compromise on?
  • What am I not willing to compromise on?

A job offer doesn’t solely consist of salary. If an offer comes in too low, is there anything that can bridge the gap? How low is too low?

Consider factors like benefits and perks, company culture, flexibility options, and other salary benefits (stock options, bonuses, etc.).

Most importantly, don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiating. Fighting for just a little bit more can really rub some people the wrong way, especially if they’ve done a lot to accommodate you. Prioritize necessities and save your energy for what aspects truly matter to you.

Do your research

Once you have your very first interview on the books, do your research. You never know when they’re going to bring up salary, so you want to be prepared with a reasonable request.

It’s best not to base your new salary on your old salary, you could low ball yourself. However, on average, employees earn a 5.2% pay increase when changing jobs (Glassdoor). If your role and responsibilities are similar, then you can expect an approximate 5.2% increase. Combine this increase with a more objective view.

Pro-tip: While you can use your past salary as a reference point, it may be illegal for interviewers to ask about your salary history. We talk about this later in this guide.

Check out websites like LinkedIn Salary,, and Glassdoor to get a feel for what you can expect. Websites like Payscale allow you to enter in various factors, like education and experience for a more specific number.

Note that these websites can often predict a little higher than is the industry average. However, this can be helpful as the interviewer will likely want to negotiate down. Also, note that most of these websites list only by the name of the position, and that other factors will influence the salaries you see, like management responsibilities, tenure, and more.

Get specific

Do not mention ranges (at least not at this stage), they will likely immediately go to the low end. Be ready with a specific number, like $43,500 – it will make it sound like you’ve done more research (just don’t make it too crazy).

Be sure that you are basing your request on logic and facts, rather than what you feel you deserve. You want this to be a back and forth dialogue.  A good question to ask is: “Should we get to an offer, what is the range you (the employer) are seeking to pay?”

Be prepared to defend your worth

If they start humming and hawing you must be ready to state why you are worth that much. The answer will not be, “Well, that’s what I saw online” – they will immediately roll their eyes. However, it is okay to mention industry trends. Have examples of past successes, particularly quantitative ones to justify your salary request.

Strike a Power Pose

Take a tip from psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy. In her TEDtalk (and subsequent book), through her research she found that posing like a powerful person before an interview led participants to feel less stressed, more powerful, more authentic, and more likely to land the job.

In the days leading up to your interview, practice power-posing in private. For two minutes at a time, pose like Wonder Woman, Superman, or make yourself as big as possible. Then, continue to practice good posture – general good posture will produce more of those good hormones that make you feel confident.

Practice, practice, practice

This is a tough conversation. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel. Be sure to anticipate their questions, and practice your responses.

What are your salary expectations?What did you earn in your last position?How did you arrive at this number?Is there any wiggle room?Do you have any other offers?If we make you an offer tomorrow, will you say yes?

Are we your top choice?

Don’t lie, it never ends well. Maintain the practice of being both firm and professional.

There are a few questions you should ask as well. Physically write these down, keep them in your notes, and bring them to all interviews.

Here are a few questions you should ask:

Can I negotiate this offer?Besides the base pay, what other benefits are negotiable?How did you calculate this number?What metrics do you use to evaluate the success of your employees?What does career and salary growth look like with this position?What benefits are negotiable?

Can I get the salary offer in writing?

Pro-tip: It is imperative that you get an offer in writing, especially if you had to do some negotiating to get there. Again, don’t assume mal intent, but be prepared should anything go awry. Ask for offers in writing and keep a paper trail.

The Talk

Now that you have all your tools ready, it’s time to get down to business.

There is no designated time to begin the conversation. Typically, the process will be ongoing, starting with them presenting a number in the beginning, and getting more defined as the process goes. But you never know, it’s best to be prepared to negotiate no matter when it comes up.

It is important to not wait until the end to bring up your number, especially if it’s radically different. Ideally, the timing will be late enough in the process to have demonstrated your value, but early enough to not totally waste time.

Here are a few ways to begin and conduct the conversation:

Stay friendly, yet unapologetic

As you enter the talk you can feel tempted to get aggressive or apologize for what you are asking for. Do neither. Remove “sorry” from the conversation and stand firm in what you are asking for. Just remember to stay pleasant.

Reiterate your interest

Throughout this process it is important that you demonstrate your investment in the organization. Do your research and flatter them. Being likable can get you far, and they will be more eager to meet your needs. Mention their programs, culture, and successes – and how you plan on contributing to them.

If they make an offer…

And it’s not what you want, it does not have to be their final offer. Here’s a way to begin the conversation.

“Although you mentioned $50,000, I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $57,500. I think that number reflects the role, region, and my qualifications, while meeting the demands and responsibilities of the position.”

But if they haven’t brought it up, don’t be afraid to take the lead…

If salary has not come up by the second interview, it’s up to you to start the conversation. There can be a lot of reasons why they may not bring up a number, but championing the conversation yourself can work in your favor. When you establish the anchor, you establish the expectations. It’s up to them to talk you down, rather than you talking them up.

Try a few of these conversation starters:

“Are you the right person to talk with about salary?”

“I want to bring this conversation around to salary.”

“In the interest of respecting both our time, I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page for salary.”

“In terms of salary, I was thinking _______ — but you have more insight on this particular role. What do you think?”

Or if you have a competing offer…

You’ll likely be interviewing for more than one position. While you don’t necessarily want to pin organizations against one another, you want to lead with transparency – especially if you’re really interested in the position.

“Thank you for the offer. As I mentioned during my interview process, I am interviewing with a couple of other organizations, who have made me an offer. I really like what I’ve seen of [the company] thus far, and I am excited to work with an organization that values giving back. If you can meet me at $47,900, I’d be eager to accept.”

Don’t forget about other benefits and perks

You’re not just negotiating a salary, you’re negotiating a full job offer. As you make your ask, don’t leave out any special perks. Open up the conversation for the standard on perks and benefits, and adjust your salary request accordingly.

“I want to make sure I have a full understanding of our potential offer. Can you tell me more about what kind of benefits you offer?”

Or you can use perks to bridge the gaps:

‘I understand the best you can do is $53,000 and you can’t come up to $56,500. If you can do $53,000 and offer one remote day a week, I’m willing to accept.

But don’t make threats

Ultimatums will rarely work in your favor. And even if they do, they will likely be reluctantly given, and that can damage the rest of your relationship. However, you should feel prepared to walk away if an offer is truly not up to par. You can respectfully bow out of the conversation.

“Well, I really appreciate the offer and your willingness to discuss my salary. However, I don’t think we can arrive on an arrangement we can both agree on. If anything should change, I hope that you will consider me in future.”

Give them time

Often times, the person you are talking with may not have the authority to say yes or no. Give them the opportunity to check with respective parties.

Get it in writing

Like we said earlier, it’s imperative you get the offer in writing. If anything is “up in the air” or “to be determined later,” this position is not for you.

This conversation is never an easy one, but it’s a necessary one. Go in prepared and empowered and ask for what you want.

Your Ultimate Interview Guide

This entry was posted in Job Seekers, White Papers by .

When you land an interview, you have one chance to make a good impression. It’s a requirement for any job and your opportunity to show them who you really are. No pressure, right?

When you land an interview, you have one chance to make a good impression. It’s a requirement for any job and your opportunity to show them who you really are. No pressure, right?

Nearly all of us (92%) fear something about job interviews (Harris Interactive and Everest College), this includes:

  • General anxiety (17%)
  • Being overqualified (15%)
  • Not knowing the answer to the interviewer’s question (15%)
  • Being late (14%)

And it makes sense, this is a high-risk, high-reward situation. The best thing you can do to combat nerves and increase your odds of landing the job is to prepare.

Nothing can beat stellar experience, passion, great interview skills, and a confident disposition. However, interviewers are more likely to reflect on the entirety of the experience, rather than just those elements. The little things can add up, and the little things can set you apart.

As one of the nation’s leading staffing companies, we conduct hundreds of thousands of interviews each week.

We’ve compiled a guide to help you nail your interview – showing off your authentic self and landing the job.

Here’s your ultimate guide to before, during, and after an interview.


The interview begins waaay before you ever sit in their chair. Take these steps to get prepared.

Clean up your social media

Hiring managers, more likely than not, will check any social media platform they can find. According to CareerBuilder,

  • 60% of recruiters will use social networking sites to research candidates (CareerBuilder)
  • 40% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they found
  • 69% of recruiters say that they have rejected a candidate based on their findings.

What’s on your social media does not define you, but it can influence how hiring managers see you, making it imperative that you keep your social media accounts private or squeaky clean.

Interview scheduling

The time and day at which you schedule your interview may not be entirely within your control. But if you have the opportunity, when you schedule your interview can increase your chances of landing the gig.

According to Glassdoor, Tuesdays between 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM is your best chance. You’re not the first, not the last, but early enough to be favorably compared to others and have your interviewer’s full attention.

This does not dismiss your talents or interviewing skills, but this can give you an advantage.

What do I do if I am interviewing in secret?

You can schedule your interview before or after work. But to get that time advantage, you can simply tell your employer/manager that you have an appointment. Don’t call in sick at the last minute or blatantly lie, just in case you don’t get the job.


Do research until you feel dizzy. You can never know too much about the organization. The internet has changed everything and has allowed for unprecedented access to information. Take advantage of websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, even the organization’s website will give you great insight.

Before your interview, research the:

  • Position
    Do some research on LinkedIn and check out who had this position before you. Notice their responsibilities and advancements.
  • Organization
    What are the organization’s roots? Its latest happenings and successes? Its purpose? What do you find interesting about it?
  • Interviewer(s)
    Check out your interviewer’s LinkedIn page, read any articles they’ve written, and better understand their role within the organization. They will be flattered.
  • Culture
    Go to the organization’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages to learn about the personality of the company.
  • Industry
    The interviewer will be impressed with your industry predictions and insight into how it will affect your position currently and in the future.
  • Dress code
    Your interview outfit will be affected by the industry and organization. Check out their Facebook and LinkedIn pages to get a more candid look of how they dress. Always lean towards the more conservative/professional side – we will address this more later.

Interviewers want to gauge your investment in the position, and what to know that you are prepared for the reality of the industry and organization you are entering.

Prepare documents

Print is not dead. You can’t assume your interviewer will have everything in front of them, and scrolling through your phone to demonstrate something is super unprofessional.

Be sure to bring in multiple copies of your resume – you never know who will show up. Five copies should be enough. Also bring any other relevant materials including, but not limited to writing samples, portfolio pieces, case studies, former projects, or anything else that applies to the position.

Always print on resume paper.

Pro-tip: From a psychological perspective, tactile experiences can alter perception. We perceive heavier items as literally more weighty (Psychology Today).

There will come a point in your interview where the interviewer will ask you, “Do you have any questions for me?” Your answer will always be “Yes.” We will discuss these questions more in-depth later in this guide, but it is imperative that you write them down, and have them prepared before your interview.


No matter your industry, professionalism extends to your appearance. According to the Undercover Recruiter, 65% of bosses indicate that clothes could be a deciding factor between two almost-identical candidates.

Interview wear will vary according to industry and individual organization, but it is always best to dress more conservatively and professional.

Check out their website and social media to see what your potential future coworkers wear on a daily basis. Then, dress one step above.

As you are planning your outfit, make sure it is clean, well-tailored, and free of any holes or loose seams. Choose neutral colors (black, white, gray, navy, beige, etc.), conservative dress, simple accessories, and a neat hairstyle.

If you choose to bring a purse or briefcase, make sure it is professional and tidy – inside and out.

Always try on your full outfit ahead of time and making sure it’s neat and ironed.

Map out the drive

Finding a brand new location can be difficult under stress, and you definitely do not want to be late. Map out your drive and practice it before your interview.

Power Posing

Take a tip from psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy. In her TEDtalk (and subsequent book), through her research she found that posing like a powerful person before an interview led participants to feel less stressed, more powerful, more authentic, and more likely to land the job.

In the days leading up to your interview, practice power-posing in private. For two minutes at a time, pose like Wonder Woman or make yourself as big as possible. Then, continue to practice good posture – general good posture will produce more of those good hormones that make you feel confident.

On the day of your interview, give yourself an extra boost as you go in. As you ride in the elevator or go to the bathroom quickly, whip out a power pose and stroll in feeling confident and authentic.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The most important thing you can do is practice. Practice everything: your answers, your drive, your elevator pitch, everything. Don’t necessarily memorize your answers, but practicing will help you feel confident and ready.


One-third of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone (UndercoverRecruiter), while half of hiring decision-makers say they can tell in the first five minutes of an interview whether the candidate is a good fit (CareerBuilder).

Here’s how to make the most of that first 90 seconds, and the rest of your interview.

Arrive early, but not too early

Punctuality is key, but showing up too early can make you seem too eager and your interviewer feel awkwardly rushed. Aim to arrive in the waiting area 5 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This shows appropriate timeliness, while allowing your interviewer to be ready for you.

Reception area etiquette

Your behavior is being observed and taken into consideration from the moment you step on the campus. That means you should conduct a professional demeanor from the moment you step out of your car to the moment you return to it. Practice courteous and polite small talk with all you encounter and treat everyone as if they are the CEO.

Cell phone etiquette

This should go without saying, but there is absolutely no reason your cell phone should be taken out – not to check the time, not to close out of your email, nothing. Not even in the waiting room. Regardless of industry or organization, checking your phone will never be acceptable behavior in the eyes of an interviewer.

Those pesky “silent” vibrations can also disturb your interview. Turn it off or switch it to airplane mode and keep it in your purse or briefcase.


It’s your simplest secret weapon. Humans are influenced by facial cues, and a smile indicates that you are friendly and approachable. People who smile appear to be more likable, courteous, and even competent (Penn State University). It also helps decrease the amount of stress-induced hormones circulating through your bloodstream, lowers your blood pressure, and makes you feel more relaxed and happy by stimulating the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain (Fortune).

Plus, your interviewer is more likely to smile back, and that will make you feel good!


No limp noodles, no strength competitions, no half-grips – more than a quarter of hiring managers say they’ve ruled out potential hires whose grip was either too weak (21%) or too strong (7%) (Fortune).

Deliver a firm and sturdy handshake paired with eye contact and a smile.

Posture/Sitting/Body Language

Your composure can be your biggest weakness in a job interview. The most common reasons otherwise qualified candidates don’t get hired are:

  • failure to make eye contact (67%)
  • not smiling (39%)
  • playing with something on the table (33%)
  • not sitting up straight (30%)
  • fidgeting too much (30%)
  • crossing their arms over their chests (29%)


Don’t take a seat unless asked to, sit straight, and lean slightly forward to show you’re attentive. If you are a known fidgeter, or simply want to look invested, take notes during your interview. It can be an outlet for your nervous energy and you can reference your notes while making your decision!


It’s an infamous nervous habit. Try replacing your “ums” with pauses instead!

Small Talk

Your interview is likely to start off with a bit of small talk. Sure, you can talk about the weather, but why not start the conversation off with a bang? Take the lead and try a few of these conversation starters:

  • “I see you recently won the X award. Your engagement programs are really leading in the industry.”
  • “I saw in the local business journal that you were ranked as a top-grossing company in the region. What do you think has brought you to this level?”
  • “I read your blog post on X. How do you see that affecting the industry?”

As the conversation continues, emphasize commonalities and shared experiences with your interviewer – we like people who are like us! Also, work their name into the conversation (without overdoing it). Hearing our own name elicits a unique effect in the brain, makes us feel good, and can help you make sure you never forget their name.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

You will hear this question. This may seem like standard small talk, but make no mistake: this is the time to sell yourself. This is your time to deliver your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a succinct and concise introduction, intended to capture your audience in the time it takes to ride in an elevator. You have less than 30 seconds to introduce yourself and establish your value, making your audience want to continue the conversation – or in this case, the interview.

Again, start your interview with a POW! For tips on how to formulate your elevator pitch, check out our infographic here.

Prepare for questions like these

Most of the time, your interviewer isn’t looking for a right or specific answer for their questions. They want to see your reasoning and values and if those match with the position and organization.

Practice your answers so you can avoid getting stumped and show off your true self.

Here are a few questions you should prepare for:

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Tell me more about your education.
  • What kind of work environment do you like best?
  • What motivates you?
  • What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?
  • Tell me about the last time a coworker or customer got angry with you. What happened?
  • Out of all the other candidates, why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What do you know about our organization/industry?
  • What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?

Avoid words like “team player,” “hard worker,” or any other zombie corporate babble – anything that’s not really quantifiable. The best thing you can do is provide examples or stories, providing evidence to who you are and how you work. And most importantly, DON’T LIE.

What is your biggest weakness?

Holy moly, DO NOT say you are a perfectionist. This answer is so common that it has become meaningless and lazy. Instead, try emphasizing on a problem you have fixed, focusing on your methods of fixing it.

This is also an opportunity to address things like a gap in your resume or lack of industry experience. A certain amount of self-awareness combined with how you plan to combat that can really put you in a good light.

The big question

“Do you have any questions for me?” your interviewer will ask. You must respond, “Yes.”

This is can be a make or break moment. They are gauging your investment and critical thinking skills. Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Is there anything about my application/resume that concerns you?
  • Can you tell me about the best person you ever had in this position?
  • If I do everything perfectly, what will you notice most?
  • What drives you crazy about new hires?
  • Can you tell me more about your journey within the organization?
  • What do you think makes this company the best place to work?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
  • What do you expect the interview timeline to look like?
  • Any other questions relevant to the organization, benefits, or industry

Anything that shows you’re invested and did your homework on the organization


The interview is not over yet. Nearly half (48%) of recruiters said they usually conduct three interviews per candidate (MRI Network). No matter what stage you are at, finish the game strong with these steps after each interview:

Thank you card

Always, every time, no matter what, send a thank you card. You want to show your graciousness and stay at the top of their minds. Opt for the personal touch of a physical letter or card over email.

Here’s a template you can work with:

Hello [interviewer],Thank you for taking time to meet with me today. It was such a pleasure to learn more about the team and position. Our conversation confirmed my interest in becoming part of [the organization]. I am excited by the [organization’s program/practice] and the opportunity to [goal/contribution].

I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps in the hiring process. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.


Super Ambassador

Send this as quickly as possible.

Follow Up

It takes on average three interviews and three to six weeks to get an offer( MRINetwork). Stay in front of your interviewer with regular phone calls and emails, without being overwhelming.

Most likely, your interviewer will give you a timeline. If you do not hear from by those mile markers. Call or email promptly.

Prepare for the next round

Remember, you can expect around 3 rounds of interviews. Prepare for your next round while you wait for a decision. That way, you’re ready no matter what.

Considering an offer

There are several factors to consider when you get a job offer. We will explore this in our next blog post!

You will have to interview for any job you want. It’s a shared reality for all jobseekers. Interviewing is nerve-wracking! View it as an opportunity to change your life, rather than an intimidating procedure. As you move forward, practice the mantra: “I’m not nervous – I’m excited.”

How to Quit Your Job [video]

This entry was posted in Job Seekers, Video by .

Quitting is part of life. Whether new opportunities come knocking or external forces pull you out, you will have to quit and end your time at an employer. However, quitting is not the end of your relationship. You will need their support in your future endeavors, and how you quit will affect your career.

Watch and learn more about the right way to quit your job.