One of the most difficult conversations to have at any stage of your career is one that is essential to your financial well being: salary negotiation. As young professionals, it can be a bit nerve wracking to try and bring up the subject with an employer but it is important to be paid what you are worth at any point in your career. Note that as an entry level employee, many companies may have a set salary that you have to roll with, but there is no harm in trying and larger organizations may surprise you and come through with more money.
Since it is taboo to discuss how much your peers are making, I suggest doing some research on industry standards before talking to your employer about it. Glassdoor.com is an excellent resource where you can make a free profile to see salary information about your company and their competitors without having an uncomfortable situation where you ask someone what they’re making. You must know how much the position typically pays and have a valid reason for wanting a specific amount of money (or salary range) that you are seeking.
If you are in the last stages of the job interview process and your future employer is asking you how much money you think you should be making do not be afraid to show that you are knowledgeable about what you want in this area. As stated, make sure you walk into the room knowing how much your position typically makes so that you can sound informed and do not get the short end of the stick when your employer thinks you do not know much regarding the position. I suggest giving them a range you would be willing to accept and back up your decision based upon any previous experience you have had. For example, if my first job’s salary range was anywhere from 40-50k per year, but I had interned for three summers at the firm, I would state that I’m looking at anywhere from 45-50k since I already had almost a year of experience with the company and I’m not coming in learning everything from scratch.
When you are trying to get a new job, do not bring up salary until the employer does or you could cost yourself an offer. It is important to remember that a job offer is not valid until you see it in writing and at that point you can discuss salaries.
Keep in mind that companies do not have your best interest in mind when it comes to picking a salary. Their goal is to try and keep as much money as possible within the company by paying you lower but let’s face it, we all have bills to pay so why not get paid your worth? Be assertive without being rude and negotiate until you get to a number that you are happy with given your skill set, the position and the industry.
Remember that while this is a serious conversation, do not get too worked up so that you or your employer feel uncomfortable. Keep the mood relatively light, especially at the end of the conversation, so that you may end things on a high note and continue working together without any awkwardness in the workplace.
For more information, be sure to grab a copy of “Get Paid What You’re Worth” by Robin L. Pinkley and Gregory B. Northcraft.