Career Counseling and Services (CC&S)

Salary Negotiations

Salary Negotiations are touchy and uncomfortable for both sides of the table. They are also very culturally sensitive. Most Japanese companies llow no, or very little room for salary negotiations. Most new employees receive the same salary as everyone else at their level, especially if you are not on a set-time contract. MBA/MA holders usually are offered the same salary as someone who just graduated from an undergraduate program, plus two years of promotion and maybe a few years of promotion due to your past experiences. Foreign firms and some Japanese firms may allow you to give them a quote for how much you feel you are worth.

You need to prepare for both situations.

You also need to be aware that in general Japanese companies pay less than a foreign company in Japan. Be sure you are aware how much the salary range is before going too far in the interviews with Japanese companies.

When there is room for negotiations, here are a few key points:

  • Prepare your salary history from your first job to the one right before IUJ. Do so in your home currency, then use a cost of living adjustment scale to determine the equivalent for the market you are looking for jobs in. Try thisInternational Salary Equivalents calculator. Click on the International site below the US specific entries.
  • Start by determining your minimum financial needs for housing, transportation, clothing, entertainment etc., your personal budget and spending habits. Also figure how much would make you very comfortable, and how much would be a “dream salary” at YOUR LEVEL of employability. To learn about income taxes and rates, check out this page.
  • Find out what is an acceptable and competitive level for the job you are offered. Use your Network or perhaps ask an A-CAN Volunteer. CC&S has a list of salary/bonus ranges for recent graduates. Find out what people in Japan and other countries in various titles are earning on this free info site by For a list of competitive salaries in your field, see: and click on the left-hand link to “Salaries by Industry.” It is in dollar terms, but you can adjust it for wages in Tokyo using their salary calculator.
  • It is recommended you take both these steps before a job offer comes in so you are prepared. For negotiation tips and strategies, see The Job Stars articles.
  • 5.Determine if your skills fall short of the job expectations or if they exceed them. What are you offering the company? Be prepared to ask for the appropriate amount. When appropriate (after an offer comes and in response to questions like, “What are your salary objectives,” clarify if this is an informal offer or just a basic question. If an informal offer, be as specific as you can in your requirements based on the above information. If a general question, ask what pay range the position carries. Indicate your interest in learning more about the position and how you fit before discussing the pay and package. If they insist, but provide a range, counter propose with figures that include their offer and extend a bit hire – assuming you have already determined they fit within the acceptable range and are not “the moon.” If it is more than you anticipated, ask for time to consider all aspects. In all cases, ask if there is room for growth in the position, and if so when reviews will be offered, and subsequent pay raises.
  • Ask about benefits other than cash that would make up your total employment package. This includes housing allowances or subsidies – often an area of flexibility in negotiations. Also it should include moving expenses and bonuses, as well as insurance and any commission (when appropriate). Is there a signing bonus for quick decisions on your part?
  • Keep in mind that Japanese companies and foreign companies often calculate total packages differently. The Japanese company’s quote may only be the base salary, not including lucrative bi-yearly bonuses and transportation andhousing allowances. Some foreign firms quote the entire package including insurance compensation as their salary level. So be sure you know what is included in the wages they mention.
  • For help and detailed information, we recommend reading Knock `Em Dead 1997, pages 214-233 and other books available in the Career Library. Here you will learn appropriate responses to difficult questions, how to get what you can without offending or discouraging the employer.
  • Consider other things besides salary and bonus review schedules to use as negotiation tools. Things such as housing and transportation allowances, stock options, signing bonuses, commission, extra time off, etc.
  • Other university career sites offer good information as well. For example see the University of San Francisco compiles various typical book information together nicely. Cardillo and Associates gives good advice as well.

See these links for further guidance, calculations and more (as recommended by a fellow IUJ student)