How to negotiate salary for your first job

21 May, 2023 - 00:05 0 Views
How to negotiate salary for your first job

The Sunday Mail

It IS thrilling to know that someone wants to hire you for a professional job, for which you will be getting a salary, and that you are officially entering adulthood. But it is important to not get so caught up in the “It’s an honour to get the offer” feeling and forget to advocate for yourself.

Almost three-quarters, 73 percent of employers expect candidates to negotiate a salary, according to CareerBuilder. However, 55 percent of workers do not ask for a higher salary when they are offered a new job.

“Yes, absolutely, you should always try to negotiate your first job offer and, in fact, and every job offer,” said Ms Alexandra Carter, a professor at Columbia Law School, who teaches negotiation skills. “Employers are expecting you to negotiate.”

Employers try to get you “as cheap as they can”.

Why is advocating for yourself important? Because what you do with your first job offer is the foundation for all your future roles.

Negotiate a higher first salary and when it is time for your next, you will be starting from a higher level. Fail to negotiate, and you are starting behind — especially since a company’s first offer may not be its best.

“No employer is just going to offer you the most they’re willing to pay,” said Ms Linda Babcock, professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University and author of books such as “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation”. “They’re trying to get you as cheap as they can.

“Nothing personal — it’s just business.”

New graduates often think they don’t have any leverage to negotiate their first job offer, but that’s not true.

“You have more leverage than you think,” said Ms Carter, who is also the author of “Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything”. “You start by focusing on your strengths.

“Just because you’re short on experience doesn’t mean that you’re short on value,” she added. “Part of career success is learning to tell the story of who you are and the kinds of problems you can solve for the company.”

Your negotiation starts from the minute you sit down for that first interview, Ms Carter said.

“Negotiating isn’t just about numbers; it’s also about messages,” she said.

“You want to be teaching that employer how to value you and how to think about what you bring to the table from that first interaction.”

The following strategies may help:

Research typical salaries

Go in with an understanding of what the going rate is for the job you are applying for. Companies are increasingly posting salary ranges for jobs, thanks to pay-transparency laws. But it is also a good idea to do your own homework, using Glassdoor, or other job sites that post salaries.

It is also a good idea to reach out to a friend or mentor in the industry to get a sense of the salary for this position. If you know someone at the company you are applying to — even better.


Set the right tone.

You want to come off as confident and friendly in your request for higher pay. Ms Carter says think of that person you are negotiating with as a partner, not an adversary. “I have a saying in negotiation: ‘I never request — I recruit,‘” Ms Carter said.

“I want to pull that person around to my side of the table so that we are working on a common objective. In this case, it’s ‘Here’s what I’m bringing to the table and here’s what the company is bringing to the table and how can we make this package something that excites us both.’”

Emphasize your strengths.

You may not have a tonne of work experience but what you do have is a new degree. And while you might not think of being fresh out of college as an advantage — it is. It means you have been trained on the latest technology and developments in your field, so you could bring skills and competencies to the company that its existing employees don’t have.

Negotiating doesn’t always come easy to everyone but it’s important to do it for your financial future — and for your future at the company.

“When you negotiate on behalf of yourself, you’re showing the company what kind of negotiator you’re going to be on their behalf,” Ms Carter said. “You’re setting yourself up as a leader and someone to be valued from minute one.” –

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