If you recently graduated (or will soon graduate) from university and landed your first “real job,” you need to know how to negotiate your salary. Salary negotiation is crucial for anyone starting their career. Not only does it set the tone for your financial future (ahem, your raises are based on where you start!) in many cases, it looks unprofessional if you DON’T negotiate, as if you’re unprepared or unaware of how the real “working world” functions.
We’ve put together a list of 5 things you need to remember when going through the negotiation process in order to look professional and secure the salary you want!
1) To start, do some research
During your undergraduate studies, you’ve probably gotten an idea how much money you should expect to make after graduation. Resources like Glassdoor and Payscale can give you more insight into a realistic salary range for your position. From this range, it’s important to your personal value. If you believe you deserve more, you’ll need to show why you’re an asset. Being confident, not arrogant, is key for candidates when they try to sell themselves at a higher price in the negotiation meeting. Asking for more than what you’d be content with is a great way to end up at a happy medium. You’ll get the pay you want, and your employer will feel like they are also getting a good deal.
2) Ask not what the company can do for you, but explain what you can do for the company
Ok, so that isn’t exactly what JFK said, but the same idea applies in the job search and interview process. One thing candidates need to avoid in their negotiation meeting is failing to emphasize what they are able to contribute. It’s important to not get hung up solely on money. Discuss the contributions you can make to benefit the company. You’ll show that you’re looking at the meeting from the point of view of your employer to your own interests. This empathetic approach will make the hiring manager more inclined to negotiate a higher pay.
Avoid mentioning personal needs or saying anything that could sound threatening. Bringing up your student loan repayments, credit card debt, or discussing other job offers is a bad idea. It puts a negative, self-serving tone in the conversation and decreases your chances of negotiating a higher salary. Focus on what you can do for the company and how it will benefit from your skills. This is the best method to secure a bigger paycheck.
3) Ask the right questions
It’s essential to keep the conversation going at the negotiation to avoid an awkward stalemate if you aren’t satisfied with their offer. Here are a few questions you should ask while in the negotiation meeting:
“How do you evaluate employee success?”
This will tell you how you’d go about securing a promotion or a raise, and how you could expect a performance review to go. You can tailor your working style and focus in the office to increase your chances of securing a promotion and raise sooner rather than later.
“What’s the outlook for raises and promotions?”
Having a general timeline of how long it will be before you can expect to move up is critical. This way, if your offered salary isn’t quite what you wanted, you can have an idea of how long it will be until you’d get a raise.
“Can I get this offer in writing?”
Having documentation protects both parties involved. A verbal agreement means nothing until it is in writing. Before you sign on and commit to your job, make sure you’ve thoroughly read over every detail of your contract so there are no surprises later down the road. If there is something that you don’t agree with, now is the time to speak up. It could also be a huge red flag if the company is trying to get you to agree to anything shady – maybe they aren’t what you thought they would be. While hopefully, that isn’t the case, it’s best to have all your bases covered and have your deals written and signed off.
4) Pick a specific number
Many studies suggest that you have a higher chance of getting what you want by being more specific. If $50,000 is a bit of a reach, try asking for $49,750. That’s only a difference of $250 but there is a significantly higher chance you’d secure that than a flat $50K. The specificity catches people off guard and makes them more inclined to agree.
5) Be prepared with a flexible counter offer
If you can’t convince your future employer to give you more money, look into securing more benefits. Want more paid time off? Company perks? Ability to work from home a few days a month? Think of some things that would add value to your life/work balance and ask for them as a substitute for a higher starting salary. This can be a great way to mitigate a lowball salary offer, and could make your working life more enjoyable.
Being able to confidently negotiate your first salary is an important skill you’ll need to have when you are finding your first professional job. Come prepared to the negotiation table, and you’ll walk away satisfied!