Career Advice for Job Seekers

6 Salary Negotiation Tips for Recent College Grads

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
July 11, 2012

Mortar Board Graduation Cap on Top of Pile of MoneyAre you interviewing for a new job and getting the point where the hiring manager, recruiter, or other human resource professional is asking you how much money you want? If so, welcome to the world of salary negotiations. Don’t dread it. Embrace it. You’re in a rare position to substantially impact your compensation by helping to convince your future employer how much you deserve to be paid. These six salary negotiation tips may just make the difference between you being underpaid and therefore probably being unhappy versus you being paid what you deserve and therefore more likely to be happy in your new job:

  1. Do your research on sites such as and to know how much similarly sized employers in your area are paying for workers in similar jobs.
  2. Try hard to get the employer to make their salary offer. That will establish a floor as you know that you won’t get paid less than what they’ve offered. If you go first, you may mention a salary below what they would have offered. Whoever goes first loses.
  3. Never reveal what you were paid in your previous jobs. It isn’t relevant as you will be doing different work for a different employer. Your new employer should be willing to pay you based upon the value you deliver to them, not the value you delivered to your previous employer.
  4. If their initial offer is not fair, counteroffer with a request for a higher salary but be prepared with printouts that back-up your belief in what you should be paid. It isn’t relevant to the employer how much money you need or want. It is relevant how much other employers are paying for people like you and how much value you will deliver to your new employer.
  5. Once you have the job offer and before you accept the job you have maximum leverage. Don’t accept the job and then negotiate salary as you lose negotiating power. Negotiate now and do so in writing immediately. Promises of future bonuses, raises, stock options, and reviews may be well intended but often have a way of being delayed or even never happening.
  6. Remember to negotiate over your hard benefits (i.e., salary, medical insurance) and soft benefits (i.e., flex time, vacation days). Negotiate your hard benefits first and then your soft benefits as the hiring manager tends to have more flexibility with soft benefits so if they can’t do much for you on the hard benefits then they may be willing to give you more, for example, paid vacation days.

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