In this time of underemployment, negotiating your salary can be a grey area for recent graduates who are seeking their first professional job out of school. The question: whether or not recent graduates should ask for a higher salary when they have little, or no, relevant work experience and are just happy to not have a job waiting tables?
The answer: as long as you are smart and considerate about a decision to negotiate your salary, it can never be too early to hone your negotiating skills.
Assess the situation.
Before deciding to negotiate your salary with a new employer, be sure to consider the consequences of your actions. If you are the afore-mentioned college graduate, it may not be the wisest choice to negotiate your salary for your first job depending upon your personal financial situation and the job prospects in your chosen field. However, if you think the employer is giving you a little leeway to negotiate, or if it is expected in your field, than attempting to get a higher salary can greatly benefit your income over time.
Do your homework.
Before you begin negotiating your salary, do some research. What is the average salary for a person in your position? What qualifications do you bring to the table that make you an especially desirable person for the position? Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions will go a long way to building a strong case for a higher salary.
Know when to talk.
If you feel that you are in a situation to negotiate you salary, such as having multiple job offers or already being employed full-time, it is important that you don’t appear overeager and know when it is the appropriate time to negotiate your salary. Avoid talking about salary during an interview unless the employer brings it up first, the moment you should talk about changes and expectations of salary is when an official offer for the position has been made.
Ask the right questions.
This is both the simplest and hardest step when it comes to negotiating your salary. In order to even negotiate your salary, you are going to have to ask the employer for what you want. Once you have made the decision to negotiate, don’t let fear overcome you. Research the industry standards for the job and size of the organization so you know what an appropriate amount to ask for is. Try to avoid numbers and instead ask for exact figures such as $31,500 to show that you have put some thought and calculation into the salary you desire. Finally, remember to be polite and have reasons prepared as to why you deserve a higher salary.
Be prepared with alternatives.
A change in salary is not always available to employers, so it is good to also be prepared with other benefit alternatives you can negotiate for if you are unable to alter the salary offer. Consider asking for more vacation or sick days and other benefits. At the very least, it is good to ask if you can revisit your salary at a set time after you start working. This leaves you with an opportunity to renegotiate your salary down the line.