Tip Tuesday: Salary Negotiation 101

After spending countless hours applying for jobs and preparing for interviews it finally happens…you have a job offer–congratulations! However, the process doesn’t stop here and in fact, negotiating your offer is one of the important parts of the process. Depending on the organization there may not be many opportunities once you’ve settled into your job to ask for changes so it’s vital to be prepared to effectively negotiate. Most people don’t realize that the first salary you have out of college can affect the salaries you’ll receive the rest of your career as hopefully each new position builds on your range from the last. Don’t take negotiation lightly, check out these tips to be prepared!

Determine the Market Salary Range

This is where you need to do some extra research. Use resources like salary.com and NACE’s Salary Calculator to find out what the entry level salary range is for the industry and specific position. Of course, this may look different depending on where the job is located. In addition, you can inquire with well-trusted connections or advisors in Career Services to ensure you know what the appropriate salary is for what you’ve been offered. Your target salary should fall within the range you find in your research, the bottom of your range should be the minimum you are willing to accept and the top should be no more than 10-15% higher than what you’re hoping for.

Prepare a Budget

Most seniors are so excited to get the offer and see a salary listed that they neglect to think about personal financial needs. Take time to sit down and prepare a budget for after graduation. What bills are you/will you be responsible for? Will you have student loan payments to start making? How much will you need for groceries or eating out? Entertainment? Traveling to, or being a part of friend’s weddings? There are many costs that start to add up after graduation and make sure you’re prepared to know what your expenses will be so you can hopefully negotiate for a salary that will allow you to cover these.

Cost of Living Research

When determining your budget some items like rent, gas, and groceries will be determined by the geographic location of the opportunity and where you hope to live. Use CNN’s Cost of Living Calculator to determine what these expenses will be for you in the city where the job is located. For larger cities seeing this information may help you determine where with in a city (or suburbs) you may need to live based on your salary.

Don’t Forget Benefits

Don’t just think about the salary number, but take a look at the benefits package. Will it be suitable for any health/wellness needs you might have? Will you have the opportunity to continue your education or have good professional development offerings? Is there a strong retirement package to help you start saving? While of course this isn’t cash in hand that you walk away with, think about the package as a whole and if this will work for your needs.

If you need assistance on how to have this conversation with your potential employer we encourage you to seek out the advice of a Career Advisor as every situation can be unique depending on the industry, position, and your personal skills. To schedule an appointment you can either stop by Career Services (THC 306) or call (804) 289-8547. Best of luck!


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