How to Negotiate Salary Without Disclosing Past Earnings

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

how to negotiate salary
Logo

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

A survey by Salary.com revealed that only 37 percent of workers always negotiate their salaries when starting a new job. And just 44 percent occasionally negotiate, while almost a fifth of workers (18 percent) never negotiate their salary, according to Salary.com.

But why is this such a big deal? Because if you don’t know how to negotiate salary, you could be missing out on a fortune.

As Business Insider demonstrates below, if you don’t negotiate a higher salary at the start of your career and negotiate periodic raises, you could miss out on more than $1 million in earnings. This is money you could use to pay off high-interest student debt, buy a house, or save for retirement.

how to negotiate a salary

Image credit: Business Insider

“The biggest mistake is not negotiating,” Julie Cohen, a personal career coach and CEO at WorkLifeLeader, said. “Even if you don’t have other options and would take the job at the salary offered, you’re likely leaving money on the table if you don’t ask.”

Learning how to negotiate a salary may soon involve a different process for would-be job seekers, as many cities and states have moved toward banning employers from asking about salary history.

In fact, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio reported companies in New York City are now banned from asking applicants to disclose their salary history. And California is also moving toward a similar rule.

This is good news for job seekers. While past salary is often a starting-off point for negotiation, cities and states are banning questions about salary history because these questions could be perpetuating wage discrimination. Plus, without being boxed in by your prior salary as a starting-off point for negotiations, you may have more flexibility to argue for the salary you believe you deserve.

The only possible issue: When you don’t use your prior salary as a guide, you’ll need to do a little more research to find out what a reasonable salary might be so you’re prepared for the negotiation process. Here are a few key tips from experts about how to determine your desired salary and how to approach the negotiating process.

1. Know the market rate

Before you begin salary negotiations, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what’s realistic.

“Know what the approximate market rate is for the position you’re applying for in the specific field, function, and geography,” Cohen said. Going in with research — not anecdotal evidence about what your friends make — shows you’re serious about getting the money you’re worth and that you have evidence to back up your salary ask.

When you’re not allowed to disclose your past salary, it’s especially important to know what someone in the same job, in the same area, and with your experience level is paid so you have a basis for negotiations.

“Let them know that you have researched the field and the typical salary range for this job is X amount,” Hallie Crawford, a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com, suggested. Crawford recommended using Glassdoor to research the prevailing wage for the job you’re under consideration for. Payscale.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics also have comprehensive information on earnings for various professions in different parts of the country.

Even if you live in a state where you’re allowed to disclose your salary, you’re still better off referencing a researched number for your desired wage, rather than going off of what you’ve earned in the past.

“Unless you feel your current salary is especially impressive and you’re trying to get them to offer you more to lure you away from your employer, your answer should really be based on what the job at hand is worth — not what some previous hiring manager thought the job was worth,” according to Rita Friedman, a certified job and transition coach at Philly Career Coach.

2. Show you’ll add value to the organization

If you’re asking for more money than you were initially offered, be prepared to explain why you believe you deserve higher pay.

“It’s generally a more effective strategy and a better platform to advocate for yourself if you link your value to what you are offering the prospective employer than it is to expect your value to be based on some unrelated factors, like what you feel you need to live on, or what you feel you deserve because you are a certain age, or what a salary calculator website estimates is an average for the type of position you’re targeting,” Friedman said.

This should be something you focus on throughout the interview process so your employer is more likely to consider you a top hire. Jacqueline Twillie, a negotiation trainer and author of “Navigating the Career Jungle: A Guide for Young Professionals,” advised in  FastCompany that candidates who want more leverage in salary negotiations should consider the STAR method during interviews to show how they’ll add value.

The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. When asked a question, think of a situation or task that allows you to illustrate your skills, explain the action, and detail the positive results.

By demonstrating you’re a strong hire throughout the interview process, you’ll maximize your chances of getting the salary you’re looking for.

3. Bring up salary at the right time

When hiring managers can’t base their offer on your past salary because they’re banned from asking about it, they may be especially eager to find out what you think constitutes fair pay. But, just because a hiring manager asks about your salary requirements doesn’t mean you have to disclose immediately.

“If the hiring manager asks what your salary requirements are, don’t be too quick to answer, especially if they bring it up early in the interview process,” Crawford advised. If salary issues are raised during the first phone interview, for example, it may be too soon to throw out a number.

So, how should you respond? “Let them know you need time to consider it. You can say ‘I’d like to ask about benefits. I’m sure that you are offering a competitive salary for this industry.’ This lets them know you are expecting a fair offer,” said Crawford.

Friedman also suggested another possible response to put the ball back in the employer’s court: “My salary requirements depend on the details of the position and the total package — I’d want to know more about your expectations for this role before slapping a hard number on it. Can you give me an idea of what the position is budgeted for?”

Delaying negotiations often pays off because you have a better chance to make yourself a must-hire candidate the further you go into the interview process. “After you get the job offer, and have shown your prospective employer how valuable you are, then you can negotiate,” Cohen said. “Don’t bring up salary before you sell yourself. They need to know you’re the right, best candidate. You are setting the stage for negotiation by showing that you are the best person for the position.”

4. Leverage other offers

While some locales may ban you from sharing your past salary, this doesn’t mean you can’t disclose what another company has offered you.

“The best way to maximize salary negotiation is by having multiple job offers to leverage,” Cohen advised. “You will want to keep as many irons in the fire as you search for your next opportunity.”

While it’s common for people to stop the job search when they’ve been on a few promising interviews and believe they’re on a path to being hired, Cohen recommends that you keep your search going. “You should aim to approach the job search with parallel opportunities.”

5. Don’t forget your other benefits

Finally, during the negotiation process, don’t limit yourself to just asking for a higher wage.

“Aside from your salary, find out what benefits the job offers,” Crawford advised. “This could be vacation time, health insurance, daycare, or education. You may find that it’s worth it to accept a lower salary amount if you also will get additional benefits.”

CNBC lists five other crucial benefits that can become part of your salary negotiations: Medical coverage; disability and life insurance policies; retirement contributions; paid vacation; and benefits that impact your work/life balance, such as flex time. If you can’t get your employer to give more ground on salary, they may be much more willing to meet you in the middle on these other valuable benefits if you know how to negotiate a salary effectively.

Why learning how to negotiate salary is so important

A CareerBuilder survey of 4,600 employers found that 52 percent of employers offer candidates salaries below what they’re willing to pay. For 26 percent of employers, the initial offer is $5,000 or more below the amount they ultimately expect the candidate to receive. This is a huge amount of money you’ll miss out on if you don’t know how to negotiate salary, especially if you consider that future raises are based on your initial starting salary.

This chart shows how much of an impact your failure to negotiate a salary could have on your earnings over your career. It’s based on the assumptions that you could get an extra $5,000 by negotiating and that you’ll earn annual raises of 1 percent off your starting salary.

Starting Salary of $40,000 Starting Salary of $45,000
Salary after 1 year $40,400.00 $45,450.00
Salary after 5 years $42,040.40 $47,295.54
Salary after 10 years $44,184.89 $49,708.00
Salary after 15 years $46,438.76 $52,243.60
Salary after 20 years $48,807.60 $54,908.55
Salary after 25 years $51,297.28 $57,709.44

If you didn’t negotiate, your career earnings would total $1,181,025.26 over 25 years — but if you started with that higher salary, you’d have earned $1,328,653.42 during that same time period. The difference is $147,628 — and that’s if you never negotiated a raise above one percent.

Don’t miss out on your chance to get the best base salary possible when you start a new job. “This is the time you have the most leverage, before you’ve accepted an offer,” Cohen said.

Of course, you also need to consider the big picture when considering how to negotiate salary. “Remember that it’s important to be flexible in a negotiation,” Crawford said. “Determine the lowest salary you could pay your bills with, and then ask yourself how much you really want the job. You may not get your ideal salary amount, but if you love the job opportunity enough, it may be worth it to you to accept the lower salary.”

Just make sure you’re earning enough to pay off your student loans, pay your other essential bills, save for retirement, and accomplish your financial goals.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 8.179% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.570% APR to 6.980% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 14, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.570% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.740% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.57%-8.17% (2.57%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.57% – 6.98%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.80% – 6.22%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.57% – 8.17%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.