5 Salary Negotiation Tips for New Grads

Alison Blankenship
Alison Blankenship

Alison Blankenship is a Senior Marketing Manager at TextbookRush, an online bookstore that allows students to buy and sell textbooks online.

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Congratulations! You’ve worked hard and are ready for life after graduation, which is right around the corner. Yet there’s enormous pressure on recent grads, the kind of pressure that compels people to take the first job they’re offered—even if it’s not what they really want. There’s even more pressure to simply be happy to receive a job offer, and to not rock the boat by asking for more money. However, there’s an art to salary negotiation, and it’s something you’re going to have to learn.

Consider these 5 tips:

Do Your Research
Young people have access to more resources than any generation before them. Salary figures, interview questions, and information about company culture can easily be retrieved from sites like Glassdoor or through alumni groups. Take advantage of these resources liberally; they’ll dramatically increase your chances of getting the job you want, at the salary you want.

Understand Salaries
It’s common for new grads to focus on their annual salary without considering the other factors that come into play. For example, a lower annual salary may be supplemented by an annual bonus that makes the overall compensation package more valuable. There’s also paid time off, tuition reimbursement, and health benefits; a favorable situation in any of these areas may offset a lower starting salary than you wanted. Remember, you’re not just looking for the highest salary; you’re also looking for the best possible fit for your lifestyle.

Create Value
Before you can ever hope to convince a company to pay you more than you want, you have to come up with some good reasons why. Look beyond what you think your resume is supposed to convey, and dig into some reasons why you’d be valuable enough to warrant additional compensation. Cite your technical expertise, your speaking abilities, willingness to travel or anything that can set you apart from the pack. Again, this can’t just be you bragging about how much you know. You have to present concrete examples of how these skills can help the company.

Talk the Talk
The most important part of negotiating salary is your ability to clearly communicate your desires and why you feel that way. Practice what you’re going to say well before you ever have to say it. Anticipate the questions you’ll receive and prepare your answers. Take advantage of interview practice that may be available at your institution’s career center. The more confident you are, the more convincing you’ll be when it’s time to talk numbers.

Don’t Take It Personally
If you’re rebuffed on your first attempt to negotiate salary, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean the company thinks any less of you. It’s a business transaction, the kind you’ll be tasked with handling if you get the job, so treat it as such. Above all else, don’t let the process of negotiation diminish your confidence. It’s how you handle this adversity that shows your true worth — and that will help you earn your desired salary.

Salary negotiation is an intimidating topic for many people — including workforce veterans. Getting comfortable with the process will help you not only now, but at every step of your career. Understanding your value and having the ability to communicate that value will be tremendously beneficial as your career unfolds. The confidence you derive from a successful salary negotiation will get your career off to a great start, and the skills you learned from negotiating will help you to handle the internal politics of the professional world.

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