Salary Tips: Negotiating Your First Offer

Salary negotiation usually becomes more intense as entry-level employees rise into mid-career and managerial positions. At the entry level, skill sets are often fairly common and salaries for most professional jobs fall somewhere between 28,000 and 48,000 dollars per year.But a little negotiation can still move candidates to the higher end of this spectrum. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider your first offer.

Try Not to Speak First

At the entry level, speaking first isn’t usually an option. Employers will typically present a number based on their own marketplace research and wait for the candidate to say yes or no. If your employer asks how much you’d like to be paid, don’t answer right away. Ask for 24 hours to think it over. During your 24 hours, do some serious research if you haven’t already.

Find a Number

Spending a few minutes on research before accepting your first professional salary offer might be the best investment you ever make. Keep in mind that annual raises are usually calculated as a percentage of current rates, so a few extra dollars now can pay off well if you stay with this company for a while. Factor in your industry, your level, your geographic area, your expensive education, and your commuting distance.

State, Don’t Ask

Younger candidates have a tendency to twist the ends of their sentences up into a question. Doing this shows that you’re receptive to coaching and you understand the weight of the other person’s thoughts and opinions. But it can also suggest that you place a low value on your own. For example: “This offer looks great? But I was thinking I needed at least 45,000? Because the cost of living in this city is so high?” Try repeating the same statement with periods at the end of each sentence instead.

Factor In Insurance Benefits

Consider accepting a slightly lower salary in exchange for comprehensive insurance benefits if you need them. But give a more skeptical review to the other perks your employers may offer in lieu of money. Don’t accept 10 thousand dollars less than you want because of the “nice restaurants in the area” or the gym just down the street.

Don’t Push It

Before you strike a hard bargain, keep two things in mind: first, you’re making an impression with people who will be working beside you soon if all goes well. You’ll create an uphill road for yourself if you come off as entitled or clueless. And second, a few extra dollars may not be worth this misstep. First jobs aren’t meant to last long, and at this early stage, your goals should be focused on gaining experience and building a reputation, not saving for retirement. If you’re not happy with the final offer on the table, walk away and find something else. Don’t chisel your way into a bad relationship with your new bosses.

The More Offers You Have, the More Cards You Hold

The secret to effective negotiation is simple: have somewhere else to go if this offer doesn’t suit you. Even better, have several other options. If you start the job search process with a strong, effective resume, you’ll exercise more leverage, and you’ll be more likely to receive a great offer and never look back.