When you have recently graduated and are seeking your first real job in your industry, the last thought on your mind is about negotiating your salary. You have applied for dozens of positions and interviewed with several companies and you are just hoping that one of those companies will come thru with an offer.
All you really want to do is get into a good solid job in your field and start to gain experience and build your career. But even if you only get a single offer, don’t hesitate to use reasonable salary negotiation tactics to gain a starting salary that you feel is fair. Using a few simple techniques you can come to a mutual understanding with your new employer and start your career off at a realistic salary.
There are many ways that you can begin the negotiation with a potential employer about wages. The best is to always remain calm and professional. A large part of making a professional request for a higher starting salary centers on doing good research. Before you ever return an email, call or go to a meeting, you need to research what the current market is supporting. There are many websites which offer salary amounts for regions across the country. This is a good place to start to see what the position you are applying for normally earns. Also, understand that is a rough average and that you might get a slightly higher or lower offer but it is a good starting point. Knowing what you are worth on the market allows you to make your request for a higher salary which would be more in line with the going rate. Presenting your finding in that manner and then recapping your qualifications show the employer that you know what is fair and that is all you are asking for.
When you are fresh out of college, don’t let potential employers think that you have no experience. Maybe you didn’t have a job in your field in college but if you were going to school full time and working take the opportunity to point that out and explain how that taught you valuable skills that you will be using when you come to work for him or her. Time management is an important skill that you must have learned to keep up with your classwork as well as making time to hold a job. Did you have any employees who worked for you during your summer job? Experience managing others, learning to motivate your team and working within a group are all skills that employers are looking for in new hires. Even part time jobs will teach many skills that will make you a valuable employee, so don’t forget to mention them as you negotiate for your salary.
Why this First Number is Important
Landing the first job of your career is exciting and gives you a sense of accomplishment after completing college. But it is important to remember that this job is going to be the foundation for your career, not your college years. This will be where you set the tone for the type of employee that you will be and where you start to build your reputation in the industry. Showing professionalism and good preparation is a good start but there is more. The salary that you begin this job with could dictate your salary for many years to come. Most employers base your raises on a percentage of your current salary, so if you take a low offer just to get in the door with a company, then in most cases you will continue to be underpaid for as long as you work there. And in some cases, that low salary will follow you throughout the industry if it becomes known that you were willing to take a low initial offer. There is very little information that does not find its way around to other employers and pay rates are certainly no exception.
Think of More than Just Cash
Some companies have a very strict structure that they follow with entry level hiring. They have found that not all new hires will work out and they try to weed out the candidates by offering a more meager salary. They figure that if you are willing to take a lower salary then you must really want the job. They also will not negotiate the salary at all. But there are other areas that you might want to negotiate. If the company offers paid vacation but only a week after the first year, then you might ask for an extra week of vacation instead of a larger salary. Other benefits that you might negotiate could include company paid insurance, the option to work remotely one or two days a week, an allotment each quarter or year for continued education or even additional matching funds in the company 401K. It never hurts to ask for a better benefits package and it shows the employer that you can be reasonable and that you are thinking long term about this job opportunity.
An Employer Who Won’t Negotiate
If you get an offer only to learn that the employer does not negotiate salaries, you have two options assuming you feel the offer is low. The first is to thank the representative for their time and the opportunity to interview and get to know more about their business. Then explain that you are not able to make that salary work at this time but that you would be open to speaking to them again sometime if the situation were to change. Your second option is to request that you be given an evaluation after six months with the opportunity for a raise at that time if you are willing to accept the current offer. This shows that you have a strong desire to work for the company and also a willingness to prove your worth and demonstrate the value that you are bringing to the table. Using these salary negotiation tactics will ensure that you are earning a fair salary as you begin your career.