Negotiating Your Starting Salary

In June, I was thrown into the real adult world. In six days, I moved to Chicago, got a new apartment, moved in with my fiancé, interviewed, got a job and did all the “big girl” responsibilities that accompany those milestones. One of the most proud moments in my first week of adulthood was landing my first full-time job.

If you have been offered a position, or are in the interview process, one of the more intimidating aspects is negotiating the offer. I’ve never been good at negotiating. I can’t even haggle in street markets in New York. Yet, I decided to try my hand at negotiating and was able to raise my salary and increase my PTO. I researched and found that that most employers expect potential hires to negotiate. In fact, on average, if you don't negotiate your starting salary you will make less money in the long run than you would have. 

Wondering how I did it? First, I bought a bamboo plant for good luck and fortune (not joking) and then I got to work. Here are my five tips for negotiating your very first full-time position.

1. Research

This is the most important thing. Having research helped me back my claims and lead to my raised salary. Research the company on Glassdoor and see what the average salaries are at the company. While you are at it, research similar companies and similar job positions in the same city as you on Glassdoor to get a feel for the average salary in your market.

 

2. Know Your Market Value

Glassdoor also has an incredible feature where you can calculate your own market value based on your education level, the value of your degree, your years of experience, your position, and your city. It’s a wonderful tool for recognizing your personal value. Find it here: https://www.glassdoor.com/knowyourworth/

 

3. Ask around

Once you’ve done some online research, go ahead and ask around. Ask your peers in similar positions or markets, ask your professors or mentors their thoughts, and see how other people feel about your offer. This is especially helpful for the recent grad, as I knew nothing about job offers and what was fair or not.

 

4. Practice, practice, practice

Negotiating may not come easy for you, and that’s okay. It’s a bit awkward at first. To ensure that you are prepared and confident for your negotiation, practice what you are going to say. Practice how you will bring it up, practice your main points with research to back it up, and practice how you will counter if the answer is no.

 

Sample: As I was considering your offer, I did some research on the market and spoke with counterparts, and found the average salary is actually $45,000. Is there any flexibility to raise my starting salary?

 I understand that I am young and this is a smaller firm, but with my experience, skill set, and passion, I believe I will bring value to the company. Can we increase the starting salary to be closer to $45,000?

 

5. Ask for it.

The worst-case scenario is if you don’t ask. If you ask and try to negotiate, you will most likely end up with more money, and if not, you at least tried and didn’t lose anything. Also, consider other aspects of the offer and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. I knew I need a few more days off, so I asked for it, and I got it. A job offer is much more than just the salary.

 

The most important thing to know is that the company is offering you a position because they like you and see the value in you for their company. Recognize that, be confident in your abilities and know your market value. Those are keys in being able to negotiate. I wish you luck!

lifeCami Fannin