Salary Negotiation Tips for Recent Graduates

By Karan Munyal on May 9, 2017 at 6:47pm

Did you just receive a less-than-stellar offer for an entry-level job? Despite what you may have heard, you can engage in salary negotiations even as a recent college or university graduate. 

It’s natural to feel apprehensive about requesting more money at such an early stage of your career. However, many employers are willing to negotiate salary with the right candidate, even if you are fresh out of school.  

While employers are generally comfortable with salary negotiation, your competitors in the job market vary in how confident they are about asking for more money. Some would rather get a root canal than ask for a pay raise. You can make this situation work to your advantage. People who start negotiating earlier tend to do so more often in their careers than employees who shy away from the subject. Consequently, people who are willing to negotiate for higher salaries are afforded greater earning potential over the course of their careers, as future salary discussions are often based on previous salary levels. 

Employers won't lay all their cards on the table right away, so you have to make the right moves to secure a higher salary. Here are some tips: 

Do your research  

Take some time to review the average starting salary ranges in your geographic area for the position you're considering. Check data outlined in the Salary Guides from Robert Half. You can even enter your postal code in a salary calculator to access salary data customized for your location. 

Research the company ahead of any salary negotiations. Determine whether it recently had any large layoffs and, if possible, find out how long management has been looking to fill the position. Keep in mind that such information may be difficult to obtain. If the company has been making budget cuts through layoffs, your chances of a successful salary negotiation may be smaller. On the other hand, you may have more leverage in the discussion if the employer has had trouble recruiting for the position you’re offered. 

Consider benefits and perks 

Employers often offer more than money. Negotiating a better employee benefits package — perhaps including excellent healthcare benefits, tuition reimbursement, an employer-sponsored RRSP, more time off or telecommuting options — can be a compelling reason to accept a smaller salary. 

Negotiate with concrete examples  

Describe how your skills and experience translate to a return on investment for the employer. Explain how your efforts improved operations at the organization where you interned. Show your value through concrete examples rather than vague descriptions. 

Don't make demands 

Speak in a friendly but firm tone, but don't approach a salary negotiation with a list of demands. Your task is to present a clear argument and persuade employers that you are worth a higher salary. Avoid appearing as if you are desperate for more money, and rehearse your arguments and counter-arguments several times to address any holes in your reasoning. 

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