Tips for Salary Negotiation

By Danni White on March 2, 2017

Image via Pixabay

In the upcoming months, thousands of young twenty-somethings will walk across a college stage to receive a piece of paper that represents a college degree one has worked anywhere from three to five years for. The end goal is to enter the work world and begin working at a really great job, making a really great salary, and paying off those hefty student loans.

By working so hard to earn your degree, you are well ahead of those who opted not to go to college and certainly ahead of those who barely made it out of high school and are still working their part-time high school job at your age. However, there is a good chance that most grads will be so happy to even land a great job that they will fail to do one thing: Ask for the money they really want.

You may think, “This is my first job, I don’t want to make a bad impression so I will keep my mouth shut and do what they tell me.” Or, “I am so excited to have this offer compared to friend 1 who received a lesser offer and friend 2 who didn’t receive an offer at all.” Or, still, “The company knows what it’s doing; I’m just a new grad with a lot to learn.” (Sure, the company knows what it’s doing and it’s largely looking out for its own best interests).

But has any of this ever crossed your mind?

A 2015 survey by NerdWallet and Looksharp found that out of almost 8,000 new graduates who entered the working world in a three-year period (2012 and 2015) and 700 employers, only 38 percent of those who responded negotiated with their employers upon receiving a job offer.

And nearly 75 percent of employers said they had space to increase their first salary job offers by 5 percent to 10 percent. On top of that, 84 percent of employers said one would not be putting their job at risk if they asked for a negotiation, including entry-level candidates.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, it means two things.

First, you don’t have to give in to fear of losing a job or job offer. PayScale revealed in its Salary Negotiation Guide that 28 percent of survey respondents felt uncomfortable negotiating their salary, 19 percent didn’t want to be perceived as pushy, and 8 percent feared losing their job.

When it comes to dealing with money, things can get awkward and even make you feel anxious at the negotiating table. But, come on, it’s your life. What do you have to lose?

According to David Fletcher, career advisor at American University, “Employers work very hard to identify a strong candidate — the last thing they are going to do is toss out a top candidate because someone wanted a few thousand dollars more.”

Second, companies always have room to pay more. However, they will pay as low a salary as they can for the greatest amount of productivity possible. The company may not willingly offer a pay raise and thus you’ll probably never get one if you don’t ask.

The biblical admonition, “ask and ye shall receive” still rings true. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

So, if you’re a recent grad, here are some tips to follow to negotiate your salaries:

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Throughout the interview process, show that you can do the job, prepare for the role, and act as if the job is already yours. Find out what is expected in the job position, and then train yourself to take on the role. Be knowledgeable and show you are capable.

When it comes to negotiation time, the hiring manager will offer the lowest end of the salary stick. You can present an outline of what you will do or have done in the job position and work your way up to the salary you desire.

USE YOUR BRAIN

You must have a rationale for the pay raise. This can be based on previous experience whether paid or unpaid. It can be based on a general salary range for the position. It can be based on unique skills you bring to the company. Saying you want a pay raise just because isn’t going to cut it.

Don’t come across as demanding or entitled. If they say no the first time, don’t give up. Bring it up again in three months, six months. In between that time, prove yourself.

ASK FOR ALTERNATIVE PERKS

An increased salary may not always be feasible or possible at the time of your request. Consider asking for additional vacation time, one day a week to work remotely, work schedule flexibility, stock options, a better retirement package, increased health benefits, and so forth.

You want to be both respectful and reasonable. An all or nothing approach will hurt you far more in the long run than getting what you want or at least what can be beneficial to you all along the way.

KNOW YOUR WORTH

This should probably be number one. But enter the process with reasonable expectations and information to support what you’re saying. If you increased sales at Company One by 50 percent in six months, then it is likely you can do it for Company Two. Know what you’re capable of and be humbly firm and confident about it.

Don’t go by what your friends say they did to get the job or what they earn or that you have $XX expenses to cover. The goal is to share your skills, experience, ability, education, and how you can make a difference in the overall goal of the company.

If you know who you are, know how good you are, and know what you can offer and politely and reasonably express your request for a salary increase, any employer would be willing to work with you and in the end, you may end up getting far more than you asked for.

Danni White is a developmental psychology graduate student at Liberty University. She works in the digital publishing, media, and technology industries. After this degree, she will go on to work on a PhD in social psychology in which she hopes to do research on perception and social cognition’s impact on human behavior. She hopes to apply this research in corporate HR departments and community-based organizations. In her otherwise limited spare time, she blogs, writes and reads. She loves coffee, sports, music, cooking, meeting new people, and binge watching Netflix.

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