"Can we discuss salary and benefits?"
March 5, 2015
You networked like a savant, crafted the perfect resume, knocked the interview out of the park, and were offered the job! Your moment of jubilation is met with the sudden thud of a less than impressive initial salary offer. Negotiating a salary at any level can be difficult, but this can be especially difficult if you are starting your first job out of college.
How to negotiate a salary without losing the opportunity
This is one of, if not the biggest, question when it comes to salary negotiation. There is an inherent fear of appearing rude and losing out on the opportunity. Cassie from Hershey gave this helpful piece of advice,
“Many recruiters will ask you up front what your current salary is and/or what your expectations are for the role you are applying to. This helps recruiters make sure that the role is in line with your expectations. If this does not happen and you are just offered a role with a lower than expected salary, you should still consider all benefits of the role before deciding next steps.
Perhaps there is also a bonus potential and potential for a merit increase each year. Make sure you understand all benefits before starting any negotiations. If you do decide to negotiate, try to work through Human Resources rather than the Hiring Manager if you have that option. Make sure you let them know how excited you are about the company and offer, but you were just wondering if there was any room to increase salary.”
As Cassie mentioned, it’s valuable to have expressed your expectations for compensation. It's okay to ask about the salary being offered during the interview, but make sure you do so respectfully. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, don't make salary your very first question and don't negotiate during the interview! A salary negotiation should only happen after you've been offered the position.
Also make sure you research the average salaries for the position being offered. There are many services online like Glassdoor, but you can also talk to your school's career services office. This should help you keep the right mindset as you negotiate a salary without losing the opportunity. And showing you did your research will make a good impression.
Practical tips for the negotiation process
It’s common to not know how to negotiate. It’s not a regular occurrence in our every day lives. We rarely barter or haggle for anything, so when it comes to our careers it’s easy and understandable to feel uncomfortable. A hiring expert from Pitney Bowes, Nell, gave these four terrific nuggets of wisdom to elevate your negotiation.
“1) Move quickly, don’t ask for weeks to think about it and then do the negotiation at the end of the time frame that you have been given. This gives the impression that the offer is an afterthought to you or that you are trying to buy time.
2) If possible, in-person negotiation is impressive. I have only had one person do it, and it showed me that she was serious about the position and made an extra effort to ensure the process was interpreted the correct way.
3) Always, Always, Always be grateful and gracious about the offer. Even if it is the worst pay you have ever been offered, they still chose you! Ultimately, if you do turn down the position because of compensation, do it gracefully. You never want to burn bridges because they may have something else for you in the future that does meet your compensation requirements.
4) When countering an offer; do not make the counter unrealistic, this could potentially damage your reputation before you even come into a company. It will be important to research to understand the market value for your position.”
As you negotiate an offer keep in mind that your compensation is more than just your salary as well. How much are the health benefits they are offering you worth? Do they match 401k or other retirement options? How much do they match? Do they offer a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home a couple days a week? Even if the company is unable to compensate you with a higher salary they may be able to accommodate you in other ways.
The key, especially, in an entry-level position is to be gracious when accepting an offer, and to evaluate how valuable the position is to your career in the long term—not just your current bank account.