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Salary Negotiation: A Guide for Recent Graduates

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Sarah Lorenz-Coryell

January 8, 2024

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Getting that first ‘real’ job after graduating can feel like a huge step for a new graduate and the transition from school to the workforce is a big adjustment.  Just thinking about pay and negotiating salary through this process can feel intimidating. It’s completely natural to have doubts about whether you even should negotiate with your potential employer. Before you sign that offer, did you do all that you can to sell your value to your new employer?

It is important to consider salary and pay rates because negotiating even a small increase can have huge payoffs year after year. A modest increase of a couple thousand dollars can add up quickly over time. Remember that while this might be a new process for you as a recent graduate, the recruiters who you are talking to do this often. They are used to negotiations and will be expecting them. So, it is almost always in your best interest to negotiate to see if you can improve your offer. Here are a few handy tips to keep in mind when you prepare to negotiate salary:

Showcase Your Potential Value

While the job interview is when most recent grads think they need to put their best foot forward, the negotiation stage is also an opportunity to shine. Make sure you are showing your best self by presenting your greatest assets while letting your recruiter or employer know why you are worth what you are asking for. Highlight your skills, accomplishments, training, personality, and everything else that helps demonstrate your potential value.

Think About More Than Just the Money

Salary negotiation is not just about the money on your paycheck. If your employer is unable or unwilling to offer you more money, consider other ways you can improve your standing and get more out of the position. Ask about work perks and benefits, paid time off, vacation leave, remote work opportunities, and other aspects of work that can better your situation in this role. Money alone should not be the only consideration when negotiating salary benefits.

Consider the Type of Job You Have

When negotiating pay, give thought to the job position you are being asked to accept. What are the duties and responsibilities? How much room is there for growth and advancement? How physically or mentally demanding is the work? Will you need specialized training and skills? Thinking about all of this will help you see the short and long-term factors to consider in the negotiation. Additionally, knowing more about how your role fits in the organization can help give you leverage as well.

Highlight What You Can Bring to the Table

Another important selling point for salary negotiations, even if you are a recent grad, is what you can offer to the company. Highlighting your skills and what sets you apart from everyone else can go a long way in improving your chances of a successful salary increase. Talk about needs or goals within the company and then demonstrate how you can help address those needs and help the company reach those goals. Employers may be more likely to pay more when they see your potential value.

Research Market Trends and Salary Rates

One of the best things you can do before you begin to negotiate a salary increase is research ahead of time. Look at the current rates and trends for your industry and job type and see how it compares to national averages. This knowledge can give you some leverage when negotiating raises. Showing initiative and doing thorough research demonstrates your commitment to making informed decisions. Knowing what you are worth gives you a solid ground to stand on during the discussion.

Final Thoughts- How to Negotiate Salary Terms

Pay rates are a sensitive topic for many employees. It is natural to feel unsure about bringing up pay rates and discussing wages. However, it is important to remember that negotiating rates, talking about raises, and working out salary terms are all part of the process. Recruiters are expecting you to discuss payment terms and many employers are not surprised when the topic of pay raises comes up. It is normal and is something you should approach with confidence. Even as a recent graduate, by negotiating your salary, you can stand strong and confident in your worth. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well prepared to negotiate a fair compensation that is appropriate for your skills, position, and industry.


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Sarah Lorenz-Coryell

Sarah Lorenz-Coryell is a full-time writer and editor with over 15 years of experience. With multiple degrees and diverse areas of expertise, Sarah writes content that is informative, memorable, and impactful.

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