When you get a job offer and the amount you will be paid is less than you hoped for, what can you do? Can you negotiate your salary? That’s a very common question asked by graduates as they start their careers.
Before answering the question, you should know how salary amounts are set. Many companies have a salary schedule that looks like the template below.
Companies will first determine your pay grade. This is generally based upon your degree and your experience. Companies are very reluctant to place you in a higher pay grade.
Within each pay grade, there are pay increments. The pay increment is generally influenced by such things as your GPA, the school you attended, and how much they want to hire you.
You can negotiate the pay increment. While you won’t know the pay increment that applies to you, it’s possible to get a higher incremental assignment and thus a higher level of pay.
How do you approach the salary negotiation? The first rule is to be upfront about a desire to get a higher pay. Here’s an opening you may use: “I really like the job offer and I’m excited about what I can do, but the salary offer is a little low. Is there any adjustment you can make?”
When you start this conversation, you should be prepared to say how much more you are looking for. An amount of $2,000-$3,000 is generally appropriate.
The response you will get will be something like this: “I’ll have to get back with on you this, but if we were to make a higher offer, would you likely accept the job offer?” You will need to be prepared to answer this question.
Who do you talk to about an increase in the offer? The person who extends you the job offer is who you should talk to. But before you talk to this person, you may want to discuss your approach with a recent employee or someone you know in the organization. This will help you with more insight into the negotiation.
Some things that can help you in the negotiation are:
- Average salary offers for graduates from your program.
- Average salary offers for your major.
- Starting salaries for current classmates with comparable backgrounds with respect to experience and GPA.
What happens if the company doesn’t give you a better offer? That’s a tough choice to face. Some things to consider:
- You don’t want to go a long time without a job when you graduate.
- Starting at a very low salary could create a salary history that generally will keep you at a lower pay grade.
- You need to have a sense of how much money you need to be financially independent.
Finally, if you ask for more money could this create a bad tone at the start of your job? Generally not, in fact many employers may actually expect you to bargain for pay. Not doing so could give an indication that you don’t place much value in your own ability..