You have more control over the answer than you may think. When you’re fresh out of college or starting a new career path, you might be tempted to take whatever offer is given to you. That may be the right thing to do in some cases, but be sure you know salary negotiation basics before signing on the dotted line.
Do your research.
You have to know what you’re worth. Websites such as Fastweb and Salary.com will tell you what the average starting salary is for your occupation, and you can even search salaries by location. Professors also have insight into industry salaries, so use them while you can. As this article points out, don’t forget to also research the company whose giving you an offer–they may be known for paying lower salaries but offering amazing benefits, such as free flights or other perks. Click here for a list of resources on comparative salary studies.
Have a “walk-away” number.
Once you’ve done your research, have a number in mind that you’re not willing to go below. This one can be tricky, especially if you’re just starting your career, but by networking and doing your research, you should have a clear idea of what you’re worth. Of course, if it’s your dream job, you may be willing to accept a lower salary. Before you do though, I recommend asking for what you think you’re worth, even if you’d accept the position for less. It just might work out in your favor.
Let the company bring up salary first.
In fact, this article suggests waiting to discuss salary until you’ve been offered the position. You want to see what the company is willing to offer first. Imagine telling a company you’re expecting $35,000 when they had budgeted $40,000 for the position. Hold your tongue and let the company make the first move. Their first offer is usually never as high as they’re willing to go.
Highlight your strengths.
If you feel you’re worth more than a company initially offers, be prepared to back it up. Creating a “kudos file” where you keep positive work evaluations, examples of your best work, and awards and recognitions is one way to have your accomplishments at your fingertips to present to employers. Don’t be afraid to bring up leadership positions you may have held outside of work either. Activities such as editing the campus newspaper and organizing a volunteer event are worth mentioning.
Finally, once you know your worth, believe in it. It can be a daunting situation to negotiate salary, but many employers want someone who isn’t afraid to bring it up. Just having the guts to discuss it, logically of course, speaks volumes about you and your brand. You got this.
Amanda is an account executive at MarketWave, a marketing and public relations agency in Addison, TX, where she works on everything from media relations to writing and editing client materials. Prior to MarketWave, Amanda worked as a publications intern atSouthwest Airlines before hired on with the company and working full-time at the airline for two years. Amanda gained experience writing for Southwest Airlines’ inflight magazine, Spirit, while working on her master’s degree in journalism from the University of North TexasMayborn School of Journalism. She’ll graduate in August 2011 with a degree focused on strategic communication and a minor in marketing. Amanda is a member of the Society of Professional Journalistsand is passionate about traveling, writing and nonprofit organizations. Connect with her on Twitter (@amgleason) and LinkedIn.