IMPORTANT Salary Negotiation Tips for English Majors

Searching for your first full-time job can feel desperate. Unemployment makes you vulnerable and it’s easy to jump at anything that bites. When you finally do receive an offer, negotiating for more money can feel out of the question, or may not even cross your mind. But it should!

We decided to break the ice on this taboo topic by reaching out to our readers for some real-world advice. Read on to find out how they approached their salary negotiations – and what the results were!

(For more real-world advice on how to land that first job, check out the book From Graduation to Career Ready in 21 Days!)


Ask for More – It’s Expected!

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“I was interning at a small company while in college. During my senior year, I started interviewing with my manager to set up a full-time job in their IT customer service department after graduation.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I did not ask for an increase. At the time I was only making $12/hour from the internship, so the salary they offered me after graduation seemed like a lot since I had never seen that much money before! In hindsight, I should have asked for more.”

“Feel free to ask for more, it’s not rude, and is even expected!”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

“I am currently working as a technical recruiter, so I have a bit of insight into this. Recruiters are always working within a range, and they can't go outside of it. They'll initially offer you the lowest amount within that range. So if the range they're working in is $15-25/hour, they'll offer you $15, and if you try to negotiate with them they'll go up, but not above $25/hour. Feel free to ask for more, it's not rude, and is even expected! Just be aware that if they get to a point where they seem unwilling to budge, they're probably at the top of that range and can't go any higher. Do some research ahead of time on the type of job you're applying for and what people starting out in that role currently make.”


Don’t Accept Less

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“I applied for an English teaching position. Being extended the offer was actually very informal, done through email.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I was there signing my contract and noticed the salary was a good four thousand less than what other schools were starting teachers at, so I said, ‘I am uncomfortable signing a contract for this amount.’ Unfortunately, the only people who could do anything about it weren't there… so I signed for less than I am worth.”

What was the reaction? Did your negotiation result in an increase? If so, how much?

“Basically, I was looked at like a hassle and told I could wait to sign, but I drove in from another state and had to go back that night. No increase for me.”

“I know it is tempting to just accept an offer, because being employed is important. But if you know your worth, then insist on proper pay.”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

“I would say don't accept less than you are worth. I know it is tempting to just accept an offer, because being employed is important. But if you know your worth, then insist on proper pay.”


Earn It

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“Social Media Creative Account Coordinator.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I asked HR for more compensation.”

What was the reaction? Did your negotiation result in an increase? If so, how much?

“I didn’t really negotiate. Just got what I asked for.”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

“No different than any other job with a different degree. Work hard and your job will know if you earned it.”


Consider Fringe Benefits

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“I was asked to interview for a copywriter position via a phone call with the hiring supervisor. The official offer came by both email and phone.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I asked for additional salary commensurate with transferable experience and the salary track at my then-current position.”

What was the reaction? Did your negotiation result in an increase? If so, how much?

“They wanted to provide more salary, but stated I was being hired at above budget. Instead they offered two weeks paid time off while I transitioned jobs.”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

“Remember that a degree in a specified field does not equal automatic experience. The skill sets you develop as an English major are transferable to real-world work environments. Most non-humanities majors do not prepare students to succeed in interpersonal work environments the way an English major will. You can teach someone a job. It's much harder and more expensive to teach an employee how to be a good working member of a team. That's the advantage of your degree. Use that in your negotiations.”


I Should Have Asked

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“Education Director with nonprofit literary organization. I applied via email and had two phone interviews of two hours each with a hiring committee. Offer extended by phone.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I accepted the position at the salary offered. It was about 20% more than the position I was in and they offered lodging until I could arrange to move.”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

“At least ask. I was so grateful for an offer when I knew so many people with better qualifications who were unemployed. I should have asked for relocation expenses at least.”


Keep it Casual

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“Every job offer I've had was a very casual verbal agreement, either over the phone or in person.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I did not ask for an increase and honestly felt lucky to be accepted as an employee with a degree that wasn't what was ‘required.’ (Degrees in business and social services were in the job requirements.)”


Make An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“I was leaving a claims adjuster position for an IT staffing specialist position. The offer was verbal from my future boss over the phone.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I spoke with the owner of the company, and I indicated that in order to be able to consider the offer I needed a fair base that would allow me to maintain my financial obligations whilst having room to grow with commission.”

“He took it very well, and worked with me to find an agreeable number and benefits with which I would be comfortable and able to consider.”

What was the reaction? Did your negotiation result in an increase? If so, how much?

“He took it very well, and worked with me to find an agreeable number and benefits with which I would be comfortable and able to consider.”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

“Don't be afraid to ask! There's no reason why you can't negotiate unless you're absolutely desperate and have been explicitly told there's no room for negotiation (I have had jobs like that before as well). Stand up for yourself, do your research, and make the case for why your skill set is worth the number you want. Make them an offer they can't refuse!”


It Adds Up

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“I have asked for prep school teaching and nonprofit coordinator jobs. I have asked both over email and over the phone.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“I asked the person who sent me the contract (usually HR or a 'director' level person), "Is there any wiggle room here? I was hoping for ______" Keep the language polite and firm. Be ready to share why, but left them ask you. Sometimes they don't. Remember they are expecting you to ask for more!”

What was the reaction? Did your negotiation result in an increase? If so, how much?

“The reaction has always been yes. Once the increase was $2,000 vs the $5,000 I wanted, once they met me halfway and once it was $5,000. These are not small amounts!”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

Always, always ask. Unfortunately, this tends to be gendered. Women do not ask, while men typically do. This can add up over a career. Know your worth!


Do Your Research

Tell us a bit about receiving your job offer.

“I applied for a copywriter position with a digital marketing agency. I communicated with the Managing Director throughout the entire process. The entire process was a week long. First, I had a brief phone interview and was asked to complete a writing sample. Then I had a face-to-face interview. I sent a follow-up thank you email. The director replied and told he me was preparing an offer letter. Everything besides the phone interview and face-to-face interview was done by email.”

How did you ask for an increase in salary or benefits?

“The Managing Director sent the offer letter via email with a starting salary of $37K. I thanked him for the offer and mentioned that after researching the market I noted that most copywriter salaries started at or above $40K.”

What was the reaction? Did your negotiation result in an increase? If so, how much?

“He responded that for our local market $40k is a bit high for entry level, but he'd be willing to start me at $38K. I accepted because I felt that it is fair because initially he wanted someone with 2-3 years experience (professional/agency) and I am grateful that he is giving me the opportunity although I have no experience.”

Do you have any advice for English majors who are preparing to negotiate a salary increase?

“My advice is to do market research on the position you are applying for to get an idea of what the starting salary for the position is in your local market. Even if you still aren't sure what to ask for at least ask if they can do a little better. I believe most employers can pay more than they may initially offer you unless it's the type of company where salaries are strictly set.”


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Posted on March 9, 2016 and filed under Articles, Featured Articles, Job Search Resources.