Professional Development and Events

Grad15: How to negotiate your salary

professional development career development salary negotiation
By Amanda Athey on April 22, 2021

As a graduate student, you develop important professional skills such as effective communication, project management and creative problem solving. One skill that is not often taught is how to negotiate a salary. This knowledge gap isn’t exclusive to graduate students - even professionals with years of experience may not feel confident in asking for a raise or for a fair salary offer.  

On April 13, Beverly Johnson, Career & Industry Specialist from ASU Career & Professional Development Services, shared some useful tips l to follow when approaching an employer for salary conversations.

Do your research!

The first tip should be the most natural one for graduate students - do your research!  If you are applying for a position, find out what is considered a reasonable salary for the job title, that job sector (public or private), and for your particular skills and experience. There are numerous resources available online, including:, Indeed,, Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*net, among others. 

Seek informational interviews in the field

One resource that you should definitely pursue early in your job search is the informational interview. By speaking with people who have similar occupations to the one you are seeking, you can get  the most reliable information about salary expectations.

Go into interviews with your ‘wish list’

Have a clear idea of what you want by creating a compensation ‘wish list’. Besides salary, what factors are important to you in a life decision like starting a job? Examples might be:

  • Location (are you willing to relocate? what commute time would you be willing to consider?), 

  • Ideal work schedule (do you prefer traditional work hours or flex?), 

  • Benefits (do they have a parental leave policy? how do retirement contributions compare?).  

All of these are factors, depending on where you are in your life, could have equal or greater value than a salary.  Don’t forget to consider these in your negotiation strategy.

Negotiating salary during the interview

Once you have identified a reasonable salary range and crafted your wish list you are ready for interviews. Keep the focus on developing a positive relationship with the employer by approaching it as a dialogue that highlights the assets you bring to the position and how you can contribute to the organization. Those are the reasons you made it to the negotiation stage, so don’t lose sight of the organizational needs when you discuss your bottom line. 

Learn more 

To learn more about strategies to prepare yourself for salary negotiation, as well as to hear some of the session live Q & A (when to start negotiating, how to negotiate at a startup,etc.) view a recording of this Grad15 session on the GradConnect Canvas resource hub. GradConnect is available to all ASU graduate students, faculty and staff; for first-time visitors, self-enrollment is required.