How to negotiate an entry level job offer

Many job searchers make the mistake of accepting the first job offer they receive, without doing any research on how essential negotiating your salary is. This is especially true for recent graduates; fewer than half report attempting to negotiate a first job offer. 

Despite this, most employers are willing to negotiate their first offer; reports show that 74% of employers are able to improve their initial salary offer.

It can be anxiety-inducing to engage in job negotiations, however, when approaching how to negotiate your salary, it’s important to remember that you would not have received an offer if the company was not interested in hiring you. This is one of the reasons it’s essential to wait to negotiate until you’ve received an actual offer, not during the interview phase – you are at an advantage knowing they want to hire you.

Why is it important to negotiate your pay?

According to Jobvite’s Job Seeker Nation Study, sometimes negotiating your pay can result in increases of 11-20% of the initial offer. That could mean thousands of dollars more in your pocket each year.

Many people want to make more money, but are nervous to lose the job offer or seem greedy by asking, studies show. 

However, by learning how to negotiate your pay, you’re increasing the potential for salary advancement in the future. Chances are if you’re receiving a job offer for a salaried, full-time position, you will receive a promotion in the next few years; either at your current job or a new company. By negotiating your initial salary, you increase your starting point in future negotiations.

5 tips for negotiating your entry-level salary

  1. Research the job market to determine what fair pay is for your position. 

Every job has a different range of compensation that is considered average for the position. This can also vary by where you are working. You can use websites like Indeed Salaries and to check what a reasonable range for your role is.

  1. Determine a number you’re willing to accept.

Once you’ve determined the range of potential compensation, determine a number you’d be willing to unhappily accept. This gives you a baseline to work around. Your counteroffer, if possible, should be 5-10% higher than the lowest number you’d be willing to accept to leave room for negotiations and counteroffers.

  1. Ask if they will negotiate their job offer with you.  

Only when you have a job offer in hand, ask if they are willing to negotiate their job offer. You should always ask if they are willing before providing your counter offer.

  1. Make a reasonable counteroffer.

In any job negotiations, entry-level or not, you should only request a 10-20% increase. In entry-level positions, a 5-7% increase might be more realistic, depending on the market you are in. If you are given an offer over the phone and need time to determine what a reasonable counteroffer is, don’t be afraid to ask for time to consider.

  1. Avoid using emotional appeals – focus on what you bring to the position.

When you make your counteroffer, you should provide a short explanation to them on what special qualifications or experience you bring to the role. Don’t be afraid to highlight education, awards or certifications you have – every part helps make you a unique candidate for the position. 

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