Salary Negotiation in a Tough Economy: Factors to Consider

by Omayra Pearson, Assistant Director, Career Development Services, Lake-Sumter Community College 


Salary negotiation requires research and an awareness of the environment you are negotiating in. First, in order to effectively negotiate, you must know what type of salary ranges are typical for the type of position you are applying. There are many resources and websites to assist you in conducting this type of research, including Once you know what the average salary is for your position then you can look at additional factors such as your previous experience, your educational background, geographic region, etc.  However, one of the most important factors you must assess during the negotiation process is the state of the economy. When the economy is booming you will find more positions available than qualified candidates to fill them. In this type of setting employers are aggressively seeking candidates and competing to get the most qualified person into their company. In addition, you as the candidate will have more negotiation power and therefore may be able to command a higher salary and/or may be able to ask for additional benefits.  However, when the economy is down, candidates lose negotiating power. For one, there are a lot more qualified and competitive candidates seeking employment than there are positions available. This allows companies the freedom to pick and choose from their candidate pool more selectively (this also means that candidates now have to more aggressively seek employment opportunities than in years past). In addition, companies are also on tighter budgets and are less able to provide additional salary. However, you may instead be able to negotiation additional benefits (i.e. additional vacation time, earlier evaluations, travel allowances, professional development, etc).

Other things to be aware of when you are negotiating are how the economy is impacting that company’s business as well as industry. If you are seeking employment with a company that has not be as impacted by the economy then you may have more leverage. However, if the company you are seeking employment with recently laid off employees or have been cutting their budgets, then you will have an idea of how much room you may for negotiation.

The tough economic times we are currently experiencing does not mean that salary and/or benefits cannot be negotiated. However, it does mean that you must have more realistic expectations of your negotiating power. As the economy starts improving in the coming years you will be able to adjust your negotiation skills accordingly.

Salary Search Links and Resources:

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  1. I came across this article in the WSJ a few days ago. I found that negotiation is the norm even for young professionals like myself. If an individual is not prepared to negotiate they are leaving a lot on the table.


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