Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Salary Negotiations- Get the Offer You Deserve

Shruti Jadhav MBA'18, Founder of Baby Deal

Shruti Jadhav MBA’18, Founder of Baby Deal

The following post is from Shruti  Jadhav MBA’18, founder of Baby Deal, a fall 2016 hatchery business.

Every entrepreneur should have a contingency plan. This in no way implies that you don’t believe in your venture enough, nor does it define the rate of success or failure of your startup. It’s a part of your exit strategy and indicates smart planning. And being prepared for the contingencies is extremely important, especially when your Plan B is to find a job in the United States.

A lot of variables have to be considered in deciding whether or not a specific job is the right fit for you. And the most important one, apart from the actual job-profile, is the salary package. When it comes to the salary negotiations you have to be very careful.

How much are you worth?

I recently attended a Salary Negotiations workshop arranged by BAWMBA, which was extremely helpful. Being an international student there are many norms and mannerisms that are completely different from what we were used to back home.  Cathy Merlo the Senior Associate Director & Adviser for Evening, CAM & Blended Learning Students at F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, helped us look at the process of negotiating salary as an art. Negotiation is not just about money, she says, its can broadly deal with the compensation, benefits, flexible hours, pension plan, life insurance and many more potential offer components.

The first step for any negotiations is to assess your worth. By that I mean know how much the standard range of salary should be for the job and what is an acceptable range of salary for a person with your background and skills. This can be done easily through a number of different ways. Recommendations from Cathy were:

  • Websites like,, and
  • Career Beam (via the student portal) under “Resources” – lots of compensation sites
  • Network with people who work (or worked) at the company
  • Company website – sometimes it posts job grades and salary ranges
  • Determine your market differentiators, accomplishments, areas of expertise, professional relationships, publications, and awards

You should have a definitive source and a figure that you can justify to your potential employer. The reason “I think I deserve the salary I am quoting because I am an MBA.” is just not acceptable.

The four times money is discussed during the hiring process is:

  • Early Stage – to determine if your salary requirements are aligned with what the company has budgeted
  • The Offer – this is when you have the “upper hand”
  • Negotiation Discussion – when you try to obtain more money that what was offered
  • Decision Time– you either accept or reject the offer

The employer may also ask you about your past jobs and the salary you made before applying for the current position. This is done to determine a base salary on which they can build the offer to match your expectations. The most important thing to do here is NOT TO LIE! It is very easy for employers to find out if you are dishonest about the figures and that will definitely affect your reputation and chances of getting an offer.

Another vital point to be noted is try not to give the interviewer your exact base salary early on because it may be either higher or lower than what they have budgeted (a $15K range with the lowest number representing the LEAST you will accept). Remember, he or she who gives the money figure away first is in the weaker position – don’t let that person be you!

For international students it might help to either convert the salary amount to USD. If you are worried that the inflation rates in your country may undervalue your worth you can research on how much an equivalent job in the US would pay and state that to the employer.

Some potential responses may look something like this:

  • “Would you be willing to share the salary range you have budgeted for the job?”
  • “My base salary falls between X&Y. How does that fit with your range?”
  • If your ideal salary falls within the range they provide, you may say “Salary does not appear to be issue and I look forward to continuing the conversation.”
  • If it does NOT fit within your range, say “Money is not the most critical factor. I hope we can continue speaking about the opportunity.”

The goal is to keep the conversation going – you want the offer!

Some final advice from Cathy was:

  • Determine your net worth in the marketplace for the job you want next
  • Be positive, not pessimistic (don’t come across as anxious or apprehensive)
  • Take a collaborative approach (strive for a win-win for everyone involved)
  • Role play before you ask
  • Set high goals (ask for what you really want)