Many new college graduates feel ill prepared when it comes to searching for their first job. Most of them are just excited to be done with school and happy to find any type of job that is in their field of interest.
When I graduated college in the fall of 2009, jobs were tough to find. I lived in the Detroit area and it seemed like everyone was looking for work. Nonetheless, I was able to find a job in my field of work that paid more than what most Master level workers received.
I made many mistakes most new college grads make. I bought into the lie that new college graduates can not negotiate their compensation package. The thought was that, once I gained more skills and experience, I would be getting raises and promotions left and right.
Unfortunately, that is not the case! Rarely do people move up within the same company these days and receive a raise above cost of living (COLA). More importantly, very few people know how to negotiate and ask for raises above COLA.
The earlier you learn and practice negotiating a better compensation package, the much better off you will be down the road. This is an extremely VALUABLE skill set to have.
Here are 5 tips to do to negotiate your salary:
1. Research your industry. There are certain jobs and industries that simply can not be negotiated. Government jobs are typically non negotiable. Aim for the median salary in your industry. I recommend using Glassdoor.com or payscale.com to compare salaries paid in your company and industry. If you are a top performer and can prove you can deliver top performances through your involvement with school, volunteer activities and raving reviews from reference letters then you can shoot for the top of the salary range. Top performers should aim for top pay.
2. Get very clear on your greatest strengths and the value you will deliver (and over deliver) to the company. Pull from any group projects, assignments, work experience, volunteer efforts, etc. to prove the value you can give to the company. CONFIDENTLY state what you know and show that you are excited to learn (*replace with? ‘and show that you are excited to learn’?). This is not a time to be modest (don’t be arrogant, just confident).
3. Negotiating a higher salary/compensation package is not limited to only money. I recommend negotiating remote working days, stock options, laptops, cell phones, a gas stipend, roll over vacation days, etc.
4. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, oh, and practice again! Negotiating is a skill that is developed through practice. You want to practice with a skilled negotiator. This person will challenge you and set your expectations of how tough it can be with the real deal.
Search your local area for groups that offer practice interviews and negotiation classes. Don’t hesitate to pay if there is a fee. Nailing a solid interview and negotiation can potentially increase your starting salary by more than $10,000. Whyt fret over a fee for that kind of return. (Turn it into an open question? Why fret over a fee for that kind of yearly return?)
If you don’t see any in your area, search for a career coach. I’m sure they will be delighted to set something up for you!
5. NEVER EVER reveal your salary requirements BEFORE having an interview and a thorough understanding of the job expectations. This is a COMMON mistake and will DESTORY your negotiation power.
Many companies will stage it like it is a requirement for you to name a number before proceeding. That’s not true. Never name a figure first. If they keep pressing the issue and even go as far as saying they can’t proceed until they have a number to work with, respectfully say “I’m really honored that you have selected me for an interview. I’m excited about the opportunity and am looking forward to learn more about the job. I really can’t give you a salary requirement without first knowing more about what the position entails.”
If they keep pressing and asking for a ballpark figure, keep putting it back in their court. Simply ask THEM what THEIR budget is for the position. If need be, repeat that question to them.
Don’t be afraid to confidently state the value you believe you can deliver and what you should be paid for accordingly. If your prospect employer is hesitant to give you a higher salary until they have seen the results you can deliver, request a raise after 90 days. Always get these agreements in writing.