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Salary Negotiation As A Recent Graduate

Daniel A. Donenfeld

Hey there, and welcome to The College Resume Blog!

This blog covers one of the most important, yet least talked about, aspects of your transition into a full-time, entry-level role upon graduating.

As a young professional facing a high level of competition in virtually every industry, you’re probably eager for any opportunity you could get.

And rightfully so.

The reality is that the entry-level job market is filled with lots of talent.

There’s no denying that.

With this in mind, it may seem like asking for a higher salary is entirely out of the question, since many people would do anything for your role.


Well, not entirely…

In this blog, we’ll show you how you could negotiate your salary as a recent graduate.

You’re not alone.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of recent graduates have no clue how to negotiate their compensation, benefits, etc.

As briefly aforementioned, many new graduates don’t even realize that they have the power to do so.

Being open and direct throughout this process is huge, as it shows the employer that you’re dedicated to the company and value yourself – two of the best characteristics to have as a fresh graduate starting off your professional career.

And look, this isn’t to say that you should have unrealistic demands because, after all, you still are a new graduate with less negotiating power than someone with decades of experience.

However, you’d be surprised with the power you do have as you prepare for the negotiation.

Here are five key areas to consider when it comes to the salary negotiation itself:

1. Understand your worth in the recent graduate job market.

This is the very first step you should take.

It’s essential that you take the time to look up what your desired role is currently worth in the entry-level job market.

If you just go in blindly, you may ask for too much or too little. This will show your potential employer that you either (a) aren’t realistic since you’re asking for way too much, or (b) don’t value yourself.

Both of these scenarios will hurt you during a negotiation, and they could both be easily prevented with a quick internet search.

It’s simple: in order to secure an appropriate salary package for yourself, you must be prepared to present evidence that proves your worth.

2. Negotiate at the right time.

A very common mistake among the demographic of recent grads is that they try to sell themselves during salary negotiation.

In fact, your mentality here should be the exact opposite.

When it comes time to negotiate your salary, you no longer have to sell yourself.

Throughout the entire recruiting process, you have to show why you’re the best candidate for the role. Whether this is during the initial application submission, interviews, etc., selling your personal brand happens way before salary negotiation is even a minor thought.

If you’re still trying to sell yourself, that means that it’s not the right time to negotiate.

Negotiation should only start when the employer has clearly made you an offer. You should never raise the topic of compensation until this point.

3. There’s more to negotiate than just salary. 

Let me ask you this.

Would you rather…

A. Earn a starting salary of $65,000/year with no benefits (aside from the ones required by law)


B. Earn a starting salary of $45,000/year with benefits including health/dental insurance, retirement plan (i.e., 401(k)), paid time off, and flexible hours

If you prefer the second option, you’re ahead of the curve; employers can offer much more to you than just the salary itself.

Most recent graduates are completely unaware of the other areas that are negotiable, and many employers are actually very willing to discuss these other benefits in order to come to a fair agreement with you.

A lower salary doesn’t mean much if you’re getting more benefits.

4. Get it all in writing.

While talking face to face and on the phone are two of the best modes of communication, you want to have everything in writing.

All verbally negotiated agreements made with employers mean close to nothing until they’re officially documented.

This is why it’s critical that you request to have these verbal agreements written on paper.

A great way to respectfully go about this is by sending a thank you email to the employer following a phone call/in person meeting, where you also ask if they could provide you with a written version of whatever it was you spoke about/agreed upon.

5. Abandon the “all or nothing” mentality.

At the end of the day, it’s best to make thought-out compromises at this point in your career in order to work towards your long-term goals.

If you believe that a position will help you achieve a certain career goal, consider settling (to an extent) for the time being.

While there’s nothing wrong with solely focusing on landing an entry-level role with a high starting salary, it’s important that you also go deeper and think about where exactly it is that you want to be in the long run, and what you can do to get there.

If you allow your pride get in the way of your rationality, you may be limiting yourself.

Negotiation is a tool that should be utilized in a fair way that leaves both yourself and the employer feeling satisfied; the intention here isn’t for one party to take advantage of the other.

Also, don’t feel bad about taking your time when given an offer; simply thank them for it, and ask if you could get back to them within a certain time frame.

You may feel tempted to take the offer right away, which is completely understandable as you’re young and excited to start, but it’s crucial that you weigh out all of your possibilities first before making any major commitments.

There’s no rush.

Thanks for reading!

We’re sure that you feel at least a little more comfortable about negotiating your starting salary now…

Right? 😄

If you’ve been following our blogs, you should check out our services. We offer Resume, Cover Letter and LinkedIn Profile writing services for college students and recent graduates, and we’d love to work with you.

College Resume is by far the most affordable career advancement service for college students and recent graduates. We’re working on creating an accessible service for the masses; one that won’t put a hole through your pocket.

Regardless, though, keep following The College Resume Blog! We will continue to put out useful content for you all.

Our blog is here to provide you with practical tips that can easily be implemented into your internship/entry-level job search strategy.

The process isn’t easy, but resources like this are definitely a huge help.


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