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How to negotiate your salary in your first job

Graduates Array

As the job market is tight, there is a massive list of eager candidates wanting to start their first job.

Recent graduates who are part of the sellers’ market are not just competing with other college graduates but also with seasoned workers considering resuming their careers after a break.

The fact is, you aren’t in a position to lay out significant demands. 

But being in that situation does not exclude you from negotiating your wage.

It may be tempting to agree to the initial offer the hiring manager makes. But the person who makes the offer often does not expect it to be accepted.

With the appropriate information and strategy, you may get the best starting wage for the firm where you’ll begin your professional journey.

READ MORE: How To Get A Job After Graduating

Why Should You Negotiate Your Salary?

Negotiating your wage is much more than just being satisfied with the offer.

It’s a chance to show your professionalism to the employer.

It is by demonstrating your industry knowledge, recognizing your value, and being self-assured in what you can add to the company.

It also proves you are competent, confident, and aware of what you have to contribute.

These skills are highly desirable, and employers will take them into consideration.

It is mainly when it comes to boosting your level of responsibility, entrusting you with significant clients, and promoting you to leadership roles.

Understand you got this job because your prospective employer believes you’re better qualified than the other candidates they’ve screened.

But no one will see your value unless you show them.

Know that until and unless you go after something, you will never be able to get it.

In the workplace, money, rewards, responsibilities, and perks are difficult to acquire if you don’t ask for them and show your enthusiasm.

The Best Negotiating Tips for College Graduates

Before taking an offer letter, requesting a higher salary or additional perks is common.

Most professionals agree salary should always be negotiated when beginning a new role. 

It is the best and easiest time to discuss money. 

If you fail to negotiate when you hire, it may be significantly more difficult, but not impossible, to receive a raise afterward.

Here are some pointers on effectively negotiating your salary as a beginner.

Do the Market Research

It’s like a shot in the dark if you go into salary discussions without knowing what you can hope to make.

It is worth researching what the salary is and how much you might be able to realistically boost it to. 

Speak with contacts who may know what they’re talking about.

Check if you have connections at the company you’re about to join. 

It is also beneficial to look at average pay reports to see what other employees in your skill level earn.

If you want to negotiate above the original offer, you can present a convincing case that the position is worth better pay.

Set Your Bottom Line

When the salary negotiation starts, a hiring manager may inquire about your expectations. 

You should therefore know what your lowest acceptable offer is.

Before you initiate pay negotiations, have that amount in mind.

To ensure you choose fair pay, evaluate your budget and living expenses.

You should consider other employment aspects like transportation and vacation allowance.

If you don’t get the desired compensation, think about additional benefits you may negotiate, such as greater PTO or more flexible work schedules.

Understand The Location

Before joining, enquire about the work model with the employer and the hiring manager.

Check whether it is remote, hybrid, or work from the office. The pandemic has affected the way many companies operate.

These days work-from-home models are the new norm, with many organizations actively hiring for remote positions.

That is a good omen for an entry-level candidate.

If the job you applied for is in an expensive city like San Francisco or New York City but is entirely remote, you could be able to accept lesser pay.

It is because you can live where the cost of living is much less.

Be Confident

Displaying strong body language will accentuate your personality.

How you present and carry yourself is as crucial as what you say.

The more assured you are throughout the interview, the more valuable you will appear to your prospective employer.

Even if it does not influence the initial offer, it could make them more willing to negotiate a better salary for you.

It will also make them more open to renegotiating your future pay rate and bonuses, job title, and responsibilities.

Tips to Appear Confident

  • Maintain constant and appropriate eye contact.
  •  Show confident body language by sitting upright, having an open posture, and avoiding tapping your feet.
  •  Do ask follow-up questions whenever necessary.
  •  Take a deep breath and smile.
  •  Speak more slowly than usual, and avoid oversharing or jabbering.

READ MORE: Career Advice For High School Leavers

Keep Your Expectations In Check

Recent college grads should think about the benefits a job might provide.

Consider whether you really want to work in this field and whether this entry-level position will provide you with the roles and skills you seek.

Don’t Make a Sympathetic Plea 

During the negotiation process, interviewees should avoid outlining their expenses.

So there is no point in addressing how much you pay for the rent or how long your commute will be.

Since you are still not an employee and haven’t done anything for the organization, your problems do not matter to them.

Highlight Your Talents

Young worker is offered a job

The salary discussion is an excellent opportunity to reinforce your statement about how you can make a valuable contribution to the firm, even if you will have already done so during the interview process.

Briefly mention any past experience that illustrates your ability to bring value.

It could be difficult for a new hire straight out of college to provide too many instances of direct professional experiences.

Consider your education level and college and high school achievements as samples of your capability and potential. 

Listing major extracurricular activities, excursions, part-time jobs, and casual hobbies can help you stand out.

This is especially true if the hiring manager emphasizes your creativity and adaptability or shows how much you care about the position you’re applying for.

If you’ve participated in the hiring and recruitment process as part of an internship program, it can set you apart from other new graduates hired and boost your chances of getting that first job.

Consider Other Benefits

When it comes to negotiation, freshers often neglect to consider the entire compensation package.

Salary is not the only negotiable component during an interview process. 

Limiting talks to a single figure reduces the chances of reaching a win-win solution.

Other aspects can be discussed, including job titles, paid time off, flexible work policies, bonuses, healthcare coverages, and other benefits.

So both sides must be honest about their priorities.

Think about a situation where the employer’s primary concerns are upholding a rigorous leave policy and keeping compensation in line with those of current employees.

The employee can then negotiate flexibility in the work schedule, a remote work stipend, and a higher-ranking position.

Six Benefits to Negotiate Besides Salary

Job seekers often make the mistake of focusing merely on the base pay when negotiating pay with the recruiter.

However, a new hire package frequently includes additional benefits, many of which are also negotiable. 

Non-salary compensation like company perks, grants, or workplace facilities can significantly enhance your working life and experience.

Some extra amenities, like restricted stock options or commissions, can even provide you the chance to increase your income.

You may hone your negotiating expertise in areas where employers might be more amenable to compromise by negotiating non-salary things.

Flexible Working Hours

Your employer can let you choose your working hours or provide you with more flexibility which depends on your position’s responsibilities.

A flexible work schedule may provide you the freedom to work when you are most productive or may enable you to manage work around personal commitments like regular doctor’s visits.

Discuss with your manager how to sort out a timetable that suits your needs.

Remote Work

Many businesses now let employees work from home on some days or handle all of their primary duties from home as technology advances, mainly after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minimizing your office days allows you to work in a more relaxed atmosphere or reside distant from your company office without bothering about a long commute.

Consider requesting additional remote workdays if your job allows you to do tasks from home.

Relocation Benefits

If a job requires you to shift to a new location, the employer could help you or pay you for the relocation costs. 

This might lessen the financial strain of relocating for work.

Trying to negotiate for moving perks can help you pay for relocation.

It may boost your chances of taking a position far from your current residence, even if they might only partially cover your travel expenses.

Consider incorporating relocating reimbursement in your talks if you’ve taken a distant role.

Extra Leave

Another important benefit that every employee seek is paid time off for holidays, sick leave, or volunteering. 

You might be able to negotiate the start date for your leave with some employers.

For example, if your company typically allows employees to take vacation days after three months, you may bargain to use yours after two.

However, the expertise and experience you’ve had will decide whether you can negotiate or not. 

So always consider upskilling yourself to stand out from the rest.

Commuter Benefits

Employers often offer travel credits or reimbursements to help with the cost of commuting to work.

Firms may also offer petrol allowances, bus fees, or free parking based on where you live and how you travel.

While negotiating, check for any possible transportation perks with your company.

Guaranteed Severance Pay

If your employer lets you go, you may be given a severance payout.

Asking an employer to promise you a severance payout might give you security if something unanticipated occurs within the company.

If you’ve negotiated a considerable severance payout, it could also persuade them not to fire you.

When is the Right Time to Negotiate?

Finding the proper occasion to raise pay may be difficult, particularly for less experienced people.

If you do it too soon, it shows you believe the game is already won.

Wait until it’s too late and it will feel forced on you.

If it starts too soon, it is crucial to put off the conversation, so you may bring it up again once you have a good handle on the work.

After all, you shouldn’t discuss salary until you are confident of the expectations placed on you.

When there are only a few remaining candidates, contestants should try to return to the topic.

Jobseekers should focus on allowing the employer to make the initial offer when it’s time for that discussion.

If you immediately provide a figure and they are prepared to pay more, you’ve simply committed to the lower price.

Similarly, if you provide an excessive figure but are prepared to settle for something somewhat lower, you risk pricing yourself out of consideration.

Find out what benefits the firm normally provides workers in comparable positions or with similar experience levels. 

In some instances, the offer will meet their expectations.

If it does not, it is the candidate’s responsibility to fight for what they believe they are entitled to, supporting their requests with evidence and research.

Regardless of whether a candidate has zero or thirty years of experience, most firms, especially bigger ones, but also some smaller ones, make the first offer in the assumption that the candidate would return and be prepared to negotiate.

Most employers won’t immediately make their best deal available.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Negotiating

While negotiating your compensation, there are some mistakes to watch out for.

By deterring these frequent missteps, you can stay on the right course and avoid giving your employer any excuse for turning down your requests during the negotiation talks.

Accepting the Initial Offer 

The job hunt these days goes on and on, so when you finally receive an offer after weeks or even months, it’s natural to desire to accept it immediately.

Even though you’re ready to start a new job, leave yourself some wiggle room so you may try to get a better deal.

Give a thank you note to your employer for the offer, and if you feel compelled to accept it right away, ask for a day to consider it so you can get ready to have a negotiation.

Even the most fantastic offers should be considered when staying calm and not feeling pressured by the gaze of your potential employer or HR manager.

Most firms are ready to allow you several days to a week to think over the job offer.

You have the most power when you get a job offer since the employer has picked you, so utilize that power to ensure it’s the right position and employment offer for you.

Consider negotiating for a higher salary if you believe it should be better. Remember, the length of time you request is the amount of time you have to make your decision. 

Not Doing Your Research

Not completing your homework before the negotiation is one of most candidates’ biggest mistakes.

There is no excuse as a job seeker not being aware of your market value, considering the sheer number and range of pay resources readily available online.

You won’t be able to discern if a company is undervaluing you or providing you with anything that is more than your market value if you have no idea how much you’re worth.

By researching the average salary in your sector, you can determine what value you add.

With a figure in mind that is derived from market analysis and evaluating your worth to the organization, you’ll need to prepare for your wage negotiation fully.

Additionally, you should research your potential company’s performance reviews, negotiating guidelines, and historical pay scales.

Don’t forget to evaluate the skills and abilities in the sector with your strengths while comparing the various salaries. You’ll feel more certain about how much money you are supposed to be bringing home each month if you are aware of your strengths and areas for improvement.

You’ll have a greater understanding of the market for your skills and your worth in that market, even if you conclude you prefer not to negotiate compensation.

Underselling or Overselling 

Many people tend to underestimate themselves or overrate themselves during talks over negotiation.

Although it might be challenging to price yourself and your talents, knowing your worth is necessary to improve your chances of succeeding in pay negotiations.

By researching the local job market, you can determine the value of your abilities.

You may develop a comfortable salary range that you can confidently present to your company or HR team by getting a handle on facts and verified sources regarding your field. Establishing a baseline market worth for yourself is not an easy task.

Not Prepared to Walk Away

After estimating a bottom-line figure you think is comfortable accepting the position, you must be prepared to turn down the opportunity if the company cannot match that figure.

Be optimistic and realize there are lot many options out there. 

If you are willing to put in the effort, getting a job is easy.

Bringing Your Personal Obligations 

Job candidates make the severe error of defending their pay expectations by citing personal matters like educational loans, medical costs, living expenses, or other financial obligations.

The professional world operates differently, and corporations don’t care.

When asking for a raise, focus on your job rather than your financial status.

Only use your job responsibilities, academic qualifications, and industry requirements to substantiate your justifications.

Rather than diving right into what you want from your company, start by taking note of your accomplishments and the new tasks you intend to take on.

After that, mention your desired salary while making eye contact.

Because your recruiter would naturally want to stay as near to the bottom of the pay range as possible, make sure you establish a fixed figure rather than a range.

READ MORE: How To Find A Job After Leaving School

Making a Salary Pitch Too Soon

The more authority you have, the longer you wait.

However, many job seekers approach the hiring process too early and ask for details about pay and benefits. 

If you are the only applicant remaining and receive the job offer, this is a good time to discuss pay. 

You may then ask for further information on salary, bonuses, commissions, medical insurance, and other wellness benefits.

Asking early on in the process might be interpreted as overly preoccupied with money and could force you to disclose what you are ready to accept.

Responding to an Unsuccessful Salary Negotiation

Avoid Taking It Personally

Some take rejections personally, but it is not the right approach.

So as not to take things personally, you need to understand that there are several grounds for a failed negotiation. Moreover, many of the factors can be beyond your control.

It can be due to anything as straightforward as the company’s financial restrictions.

Therefore, instead of taking the rejection personally, give yourself some time to process what has transpired before deciding what actions you want to do next.

Make a Counteroffer

Even though the first amount you requested was turned down, there is still time to reach a compromise and choose a sum that benefits you and your company.

If they reject your offer, you must have had a counteroffer in mind to try to reach an agreement quickly. 

Always be well-planned, and whenever the time comes, ask for a counteroffer.

Negotiate Other Benefits

It’s good to ask about additional advantages you may negotiate if your counteroffer is rejected and you still want the job.

You must be aware that there are a variety of perks, in addition to financial ones, that you might try to negotiate. It can be a bonus, vacation time, or health insurance. Additionally, you may request flexible hours or work remotely on some days.

Your overall pay package will grow if a corporation agrees to these extra benefits.

This may also encourage you to accept a job offer even after an unsuccessful employment negotiation.

Ask If There Will Be Any Future Reconsideration

What if the negotiation over salary wasn’t successful?

You might ask about the employer’s willingness to take this wage issue into account and handle it at a later time. 

Once you join the firm, this period may be six, nine, or even a year.

Employers are eager to retain workers, so they’ll likely agree to provide you with the incentives.

Sometimes, you can take a job offer despite a failed negotiation since you know the issue will be resolved later.

Maintain Professionalism

Money is always a heated topic.

Therefore, things could spin out of control despite everyone’s best efforts.

No matter how the other person responds, try to maintain your composure and professionalism if the issue gets out of hand.

If it becomes too awkward, express gratitude for their time and inform them that you want to decline the offer.

In any event, you shouldn’t work for a company that doesn’t value its employees’ opinions. 

Avoid tearing up any future connections.

Have a positive demeanor and end it with a good tone.

Final Thoughts 

Negotiating a job offer is the easiest way to prove your value at work. 

You have every right to receive the pay you are eligible for.

By doing so, the pay threshold for this generation will also be raised. But it might be tempting to take the bare minimum when signing your first job offer.

However, be careful to plan to avoid accepting a meager offer or landing in a situation where you’ll be stretched thin and underpaid.

Getting the standard price in your new sector and playing to your skills are necessary.

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