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Yes, you can negotiate a higher government salary—especially when you enter a government career. Don't be intimidated by the complex pay scales and grade structures and step-wise salary increases—negotiate your way to a higher starting salary right away.
- Negotiate a step increase within your pay grade level. If you're offered a government job at a lower step, find out the highest possible salary and aim for that.
- Base the negotiation off your most recent salary, especially if you are moving from a private sector job. A 10 percent pay raise is reasonable for career development and advancement.
- Take your travel and relocation expenses into account. Some government jobs offer a bonus for relocation expenses, but you may need additional funds. In addition, some areas of the nation have higher living expenses than what you might be used to.
- Play up your education and experience. Someone with a master's degree in government and public policy is beyond entry-level salaries—you have critical skills and abilities.
- Mention other offers you've received, if you're in job hunting mode. If a private sector firm offered you more in starting salary than the government job, it's OK to mention that in your negotiation.
- Aim for perks if you can't get a salary increase. Does the agency offer student loan reimbursement? Is there a recruitment bonus? And don't forget the relocation allowance.
- Be confident when talking to HR reps and hiring managers. If you believe in yourself, they're more likely to see you as an asset to the department.
- Show the manager how you're dedicated to public service—and actually be dedicated to public service. New master's program graduates should put all related service on their CVs, and current government employees can trace their job history.
Are you a veteran of the military? Read some Military Veterans: Advice on Getting a Job in Government. Or, read more about Government and Public Policy degrees.
Search for government graduate programs using the GraduateSchools.com university search engine.