When to Negotiate Salary

To: Candace Moody
Subject: Asking about Pay for Potential Jobemail

Ms. Moody: I need advice.

This situation is very premature, but the interview that I went on seemed promising and I would like to know the answer in case the situation does arise –  now or in the future.

I recently went on an interview for a marketing job for a local company. The job itself seems like a good stepping stone, and I think I can handle the duties well.

The job posting indicated clearly that they are offering $15 an hour, and the recruiter who interviewed me mentioned this again.

I have a little more than a year of experience in marketing, and my research, (Payscale.com) tells me that I should be making about $15.50 an hour; Salary.com told me to expect about $16.00 per hour.

Is it appropriate to try to negotiate to $16, considering they seem set on the salary? If I get the second interview, I would be meeting with the division manager and an HR representative, and I was told that that would be my opportunity to ask more in-depth HR questions. Should I bring this up then or after I get an offer? I don’t want to lose an opportunity.

Any counsel would be greatly appreciated.


T, Jacksonville

Dear T:

Thanks for asking such an important question.  The answer depends on how much experience you have actually doing this kind of work.  You don’t explain your specific experience (although you have a year of marketing), but if this is a brand new set of skills for you, I would take the entry level salary and wait until you’ve proved what you can do before asking for a raise.

If most of your experience has been in doing exactly what this job requires, it would be acceptable to ask about a higher entry salary. But here’s the important part: timing.

The only time it’s appropriate to negotiate a salary is after the offer has been made.  Before that, asking for more money merely gives the recruiter an uneasy feeling that you may not consider this a great opportunity.  The company may decide to pass you over for the next candidate (who could be a strong second choice) who will jump at the salary.  But the moment they make you the offer, you have the opportunity to inquire about the range of the salary.  It’s a unique time in your relationship with this new company: you know they want you, but they are not yet sure that the feeling is mutual.  Here’s a script:

“This is a great opportunity, and I am thrilled to get the offer.  I have just one question about the salary range for this job.  My market research indicates that the average for this position is just slightly higher, at $16.00 an hour. Is your salary fixed at $15, or is there something I might do over the next year to earn closer to the industry average?”  Notice I have positioned the question as “How can I earn more when you know my work better?” rather than “Can you up your offer?”

If they seem firm right now, chances are they will hold at their initial offer (and with just a year of experience, I doubt that they will see a reason to make a higher offer.)

The answer right now may just be: “We’ll take a look in a year.” That gives you the chance to work hard and ask again when you have proved your value.

Sounds like you’re doing everything right.  Thanks for asking, and good luck with the interview.


Do you have a question?  Email me at cmoody@worksourcefl.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: