Is There Room for Recent Graduates to Negotiate Salary When Accepting Their First Job? 

August 1st, 2017

Schools out, you’ve got that new diploma in hand and you’re ready to start earning some of that sweet cash that you were promised by the career office.

You’ve landed an interview (congrats!), gone through the whole hiring process (congrats again!), impressed the manager in the interview (let’s go!), and been given an offer by a company that wants to hire you (LET’S GO!) and… that’s all the money their offering? (gulp)

You’ve got to be your own advocate when it comes to convincing an employer to pay what you’re worth, but talking about money is probably kind of uncomfortable for you. And, since you’re a new grad, you may be wondering if you even should try to negotiate a higher salary or if you should thank your lucky stars someone at least wants to pay you something.

The good news: Not only is there room for you to negotiate salary as a new grad, but you owe it to yourself to initiate negotiations. You should negotiate your salary because:

Unemployment is Low

If you’re graduating now, you’ve got one awesome thing going for you: you’re entering the workforce at a time of growth instead of during the great recession that grads had to deal with just a few years ago.   Unemployment rates are actually reaching record lows in a lot of states. Just in case you didn’t take an econ course, the laws of supply and demand suggest that a low unemployment rate means there’s a lower supply of workers for companies to hire. Prices – aka your wages – should be higher. You’ll need to negotiate to get them there, though.

Most Employers Expect a Negotiation

You’ve bought a car or haggled at a garage sale, right? You know that no one pays sticker price for these purchases. Well, when your potential new employer throws out a number they’re willing to pay, they likely intend that number to be the opening number in the negotiation for what you’re worth. Don’t short-change yourself by accepting the opening offer. Speak up and ask for more cash, because earning more income over your career is going to make a lot more of a difference in your financial life than getting a few extra bucks off that garage sale bargain.

Your Starting Salary’s Going to Affect Your Future

The salary you make at your first job out of school can actually set the stage for your whole professional life. Future employers could ask what you were making to get an idea of what to pay you. If the company you’re working with promotes you, your starting salary will be the base rate so a lower starting salary means raises won’t be worth as much.

With so many good reasons to ask for more cash, and with lots of reasons why you should be successful when making the ask, definitely make it a point to negotiate even as a new graduate. Doing so is a lot easier than living on less or spending the next five years asking mom and dad for cash even though you’re not a student any more.

Of course, you could also turn to Partnership Employment for help finding a job with a salary you’re happy with and negotiating your pay with the help of a professional recruiter.

This takes the awkwardness out of trying to boost your take-home pay so you can earn enough to stop living on a student budget and try out that whole adulting thing now that you’re a grad.

Interested in learning more?

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