Whether you are a college student nearing graduation or a recent grad, you are likely keeping an eye out for your first job that actually offers a salary. While the typical entry level job doesn’t come with a top tier, this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a disappointing paycheck. Before you make any decisions on your first job offer, check out these tips for salary negotiation.
Think About More Than Just Salary
Before you decide what kind of salary you want, make sure you look at the big picture. Of course, you need to be able to pay your bills, so add those up in order to find out the minimum salary you should accept. Then start looking at all the types of compensation you might get at the job you are applying for. For example, find out what the benefits are. This could include health insurance, 401k matching, paid time off, and tuition reimbursement. If you would actually use these types of benefits, factor in how much money they would save you.
You might find that accepting a lower salary that comes with a great overall package is financially wiser than accepting a higher salary without these benefits. Do the math, and then start thinking about important aspects that you can’t quantify, such as room for advancement within a company you actually respect and would enjoy working for. You just might find that your happiness and future opportunities are worth more than money can buy, leading you to accept an entry level job that is light on the salary but heavy on the potential.
Once you have some idea of the amount of money you need to get by, do some research on how much the industry is actually paying. You don’t want to enter into salary negotiations with unrealistic numbers. You risk either asking for an appalling amount of money or greatly undervaluing yourself.
Fortunately, websites like Glassdoor, Payscale, and Salary.com make it easy for you to see salary ranges. You can look up the typical salary by the location of the company and title of the position you are interviewing for. If you applied with a major company, you can even see the salary range of current employees.
Start Negotiating by Displaying Your Value
If the typical salary for your title looks a little low for you, don’t give up. This is the time to work hard on the salary negotiation. Once you are offered the job and the discussion on salary begins, you should start by showing that you did your research. You can quote comparable salaries, and you might even consider printing the website pages that back up your findings.
Once you let the HR representative know how much you are asking for, be prepared to make your case. This should involve showing what you would bring to the company and why you deserve the salary you have quoted. Even if you are a current college student or recent graduate with limited job experience, you can surely think of some strengths that are unique to you.
Maybe you took some extra classes that allowed you to delve deeper into a subject that could help you with your profession, or perhaps you worked on a research project with a respected professor. If you have any internships, awards, volunteer experience, or impressive reference letters that show your passion and knowledge of your career, make sure the company is aware of them.
End on a Good Note
End the salary negotiation by reiterating how much you want the job and would be excited to work with the company. You want to keep the interaction positive and respectful. Once you have spent some time showing your value and citing statistics on a fair salary for an entry level job, don’t be afraid to walk away from the offer if it is still not what you need.
You can politely decline and thank the HR staff members for their time. After all, you never know if they will contact you soon to extend a better offer once they have thought over your points!