Budgeting as a new grad is a difficult equation. The first job out of college isn’t always a dream job, but you should still try to get everything out of it that you can! This involves experience, networking, confidence, and last but not least, cold hard cash. An income stream is the crucial other half of the budgeting process.
Learning how to negotiate salary for your first job is a daunting task, but it pays dividends. A few extra percent on your salary could pay for those lattes you bring in every morning and your growing collection of plants! Understanding how and when to negotiate as a new grad opens the door for you to get a little bonus on every single check at your first job!
Avoid negotiation pitfalls
It is easy to lock yourself into the base salary they offer you. Some interviewers have salary negotiation gotcha questions to force you into talking about salary before you are ready. Knowing when and how to negotiate salary helps keep the conversation going. Especially at a first job, there is pressure to accept the position as it is because, well, “you should be grateful for the opportunity.” That is not the right mindset!
Prepare yourself to avoid these pitfalls and keep the doors open. Remember, salary is one big benefit, but it’s not the only thing you can negotiate.
Negotiation, especially at a young age, feels very strange. There’s something about getting your first job offer and asking for more that seems wrong. Not knowing how to negotiate salary is not, however, a phenomenon limited to new grads. Only 39% of professionals even try to negotiate their salary according to a recent poll. Most companies leave room in their budget for negotiations, and the worst-case scenario is that they just say no. They will not rescind your offer because you asked.
Do your research
There are two items to put high on your research list. They are:
- Your own value
- The salary range of your position. Somewhere like the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good place to start!
Knowing your own value is a tough prospect as a new grad. Before your first big job, you may have had internships and part-time jobs in the summers and during the semester, but a job after getting a degree is an entirely different ball game. You deserve a fair salary for your position and a benefits package to match. If a company is offering something that’s well below your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), pursuing that position might not be worth your time.
Once you know the salary range of your position, take some time and research the company. Take a deep look at the job description and prepare points about how you will go above and beyond certain tasks and how you desire a fair salary in relation to the value you will add to the company.
Money isn’t everything
Money is great, but there are a lot of confounding variables that might make a slight pay cut worthwhile. Take these two examples:
- Job #1 pays 100K with standard benefits and vacation and you will, say, stamp papers all day.
- Job #2 pays 80K with standard benefits, a signing bonus, extra vacation, and you will work in your desired field with room for advancement while making connections and learning an expert field.
The idea behind this silly example is this – there are jobs that are not worth your time. Some of them are not worth it because they don’t pay enough while some are not worth it because they are not going to make you happy. Working should net you money, experience, and connections. Especially in your first job, negotiating as a new grad can pay some serious dividends. Enough of one can make up for a lack in the other two (getting paid a million dollars at Job #1, maybe) but all three are important. You should ask, either in your interview or at the beginning of negotiations, if there is a plan for advancement or networking in your position.
Negotiation is an art
Knowing how and when to negotiate as a new grad is a good place to start, but becoming a skilled negotiator won’t happen overnight. When done wrong, negotiations can go sour, leaving a bad impression on the interviewer. Alongside that, mistakes in negotiation can close doors, leaving you unable to leave with the offer you deserve.
Don’t leave money on the table. Pathrise can connect you to an experienced professional for one-on-one negotiation support and help you get a 10-20% increase in salary on average. Learn more and connect with a Negotiation Consultant here.