How New Graduates Can Negotiate Their First Salary
Opportunity Clearly Exists for a New Graduate to Engage in Salary Negotiation
One of the uncomfortable aspects, perhaps the most uncomfortable, is the negotiation of a price for a transaction; the consumer typically has an idea of the maximum that they are willing to pay, while the service provider knows how much wiggle-room they have in order to ensure that they still make a reasonable profit on that particular job or contract.
In due course, one side will capitulate in order to move the process forward; most often, it is the consumer, because their research has shown that a better price is not available elsewhere and they need/want to have the work done. These situations can be awkward for both parties, but particularly for consumers, as they are customarily less experienced in the art of negotiation; so, they surrender, accept the quote, and sign the contract.
There are parallels from this consumer-contractor scenario that can be applied to a new graduate negotiating their initial salary/contract with an employer; many new graduates might be so happy that they have been offered a job that they merely accept whatever starting salary is presented, yet this may be a case where they are leaving some money on the table, in a manner of speaking. Said another way, a new graduate can engage in salary negotiation with an employer, provided that it is done in a professional, respectful and objective fashion.
Salary negotiation is an essential aspect of the decision-making process for the employer and the new graduate. For the former, it presents the image of a determined employee, one who wants to make a contribution and succeed in their career; for a new graduate, it provides salary negotiation experience for any similar circumstances in the future while conceivably adding a few dollars to their annual compensation as well.
To that end, the recruitment consultants at Winters Technical Staffing, a leading staffing agency in Toronto for more than 40 years, offer the following guidelines and suggestions to help a new graduate approach a salary negotiation for the first time:
- Prepare – learn about the company, their market, the average salary for the job
- Consider the employer’s perspective – be open to their ideas and to their position
- Speak in a confident tone and at a relaxed pace; rehearse questions and answers
- Be realistic – ask for salary or benefits that are within reason for entry-level jobs
- Recognize the need to fill the role and strive for agreement as quickly as possible
- Prioritize requests – which are most important? which can be dropped if needed?
- Present an air of entitlement based on education; work experience will be a factor
- Attempt to justify requests on the basis of theory, probability, future performance
- Try to play one company’s offer against that of another (can be seen as coercion)
- Act aggressively by demanding non-negotiables; employers still have the final say
- Give ultimatums – this is not a form of negotiation and it creates an aura of ill will
Another element that can solidify a successful salary negotiation is a willingness on the part of the new graduate to look at creative options. Sometimes, the employer could be in a situation where they do not have any flexibility in terms of the actual base salary; in such instances, an open-mindedness to look at alternatives in the compensation package can lead to the new graduate achieving an overall satisfying result to their negotiations.
Some of the non-monetary aspects that may be discussed in lieu of base salary include:
- Flexible hours
- Vacation allotment
- Fitness memberships
- Medical/dental coverage
- Profit sharing/stock options
- Bonuses/rate of commissions
- Vehicle or expense allowances
- Educational assistance programs
The opportunity clearly exists for a new graduate to engage in salary negotiation with an employer; a lack of negotiating experience can be overcome, at least partially, through a courteous yet confident/prepared approach, supported by liberal degrees of non-bias and compromise.
Job Placement Specialists Can Serve as Valuable Resources to New Graduates
Some new graduates, even though they believe that they can confidently and objectively build a case to support their position, may find salary negotiation to be a rather stressful or uncomfortable process. Such emotions could be based on a desire to make a positive first impression and to ‘get off on the right foot’ with their new employer.
To avoid any potential discomfort in these situations, new graduates might elect to align their search efforts with the resources available from the job placement professionals at Winters Technical Staffing in Toronto. These specialists can support new graduates in a number of ways, including but not limited to:
- Identifying more job opportunities
- Interview coaching and coordination
- Salary research and salary negotiation
To register as a member of the talent network with Winters Technical Staffing, please check our talent network page.
For further information on the areas of specialization at Winters Technical Staffing and to view current job listings, visit our career center section.
Contact Winters Today
Looking for assistance with salary negotiation as part of accepting a job offer? Call the specialists at Winters Technical Staffing today at 416-495-7422 or contact us to book a consultation with one of our knowledgeable consultants.