Published: April 9, 2019

For graduate students, it’s natural to hesitate and sometimes completely avoid negotiating a job offer. Why? Because of the fear that if you ask for higher compensation, additional resources or better benefits, the offer might be rescinded.

If a job offer was extended to you, then you are the chosen candidate. It is almost always expected that a negotiation will be part of the process to get you on board. So, seize the opportunity to show them why a better compensation package will allow you to succeed in this new role. Here are a few reasons why you are fully equipped for this process.

Two professionals having a conversationYou are a thorough researcher

Through your graduate studies, you have gained excellent research skills. These skills are necessary when doing your compensation research. Knowing the salary ranges of others in similar positions will allow you to negotiate higher pay.

Thoughtfully consider other factors in the offer. Look into their retirement benefits, bonus structure, professional development opportunities, flexible vacation and paid leave, research funding and other monetary components being offered. Consider which of these options is most important to you and go from there. You won’t be able to negotiate everything, so choose your battles wisely.

Your graduate work has taught you humility

Learning from experts in your field and surviving in a world of brilliant peers has helped you understand that you are skilled, independent and ready to learn more. You know that as a team member, you are only a part of the larger endeavor, but you also know the value you bring to the team.

Coming to a negotiation table with appropriate research, confidence and humility will put you in the right frame of mind to present your desired compensation package. Be assertive, yet humble, about the value that you bring to the new position. 

You know your limitations

As you set your salary figure, it should be backed up by an assessment of where you meet, exceed and fall short of qualifications needed for this role. Consider any added value you may bring through additional certifications or specialized experience important to the role and held by few applicants. Your research will be crucial to your determination of what a fair and reasonable salary is for this role and allow you to be specific in articulating your assertion.

You know how to make a strong case

Critical analysis is a fundamental component of your work as a graduate student. If you’re in a professional master’s program, you spent most of your time completing necessary coursework or practicum experiences and then went on to defend what you discovered.

Negotiations should be treated the same way. Once you’ve done your research, thoughtfully analyzed the offer and determined what you need to be successful, you’ll want to present your case as a rational assessment of their needs and your unique contributions.

Tips on developing your strategy

For strategies and tips on negotiating for academic careers, check out the Career Blog for more details on developing your strategy.

If you focus on what you have accomplished and the rigorous processes you have already conquered as a graduate student, you’ll see the intimidation factor of salary negotiation shrink. Come prepared. Think critically and act with humble confidence.

Whether you’re negotiating a job in academics or in industry, make an appointment with a career development advisor to develop your negotiation strategy.