How to Negotiate Your First Job Offer | H&R Block
July 10, 2015 : Ariella Coombs – Guest Contributor
Editor’s Note: I was so happy to get my first job offer, I accepted it immediately without even an attempt at negotiation. Don’t be like me. Negotiate an entry-level job smarter with these tips , and you’ll set yourself up for career and financial success.
Graduating college and entering the workforce is overwhelming enough. When you consider the pressure of negotiating your first job offer, it’s easy to feel intimidated.
You don’t want to ruin a good offer with unrealistic expectations or inappropriate negotiation strategies. Thankfully, there are some tricks to help you negotiate smarter. Here are five tips for negotiating your first job offer:
1. Do your homework.
Before you negotiate anything, do your homework. Research competitive salary rates for similar positions by using websites like Glassdoor.com, Payscale.com and Salary.com. Figure out the average salary for your position and work from there to avoid looking unprepared in a negotiation. Don’t skip this step!
2. Know your “walk away” rate.
Once you do your research, you’ll have an idea of the highest and lowest salaries for your position. If you are offered something on the low end of that spectrum, you need to be prepared.
The best way to do this is to know your “walk away” rate. This is the absolute lowest offer you will accept. When choosing this number, ask, “What’s the least amount of money I need to live comfortably?”
Consider your lifestyle (fun, activities), obligations (family, health, bills), and future (savings). What’s most important to you? What’s absolutely necessary? What can you live without? Then, strip your expenses down to the bare bones. This is the absolute lowest amount you can accept in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
3. Think about more than just money.
You want to be paid at a competitive rate, but don’t focus only on the money. You can negotiate for other things, too, like work-from-home opportunities, flex time, vacation days and other perks.
4. Give them a reason to give you more.
When negotiating an entry-level job offer, provide the employer a reason to give you what you’re asking for. You must demonstrate your value. That is often done by illustrating how your unique skill set and strengths can benefit the company.
To do this, you need to ask questions during the interview process that help you understand the company goals and how you would be contributing. Demonstrating value and an understanding of the job can give you a more leverage during the negotiation.
Negotiating can be stressful and many don’t want to deal with it. However, it’s part of the job search process. The employer might say no, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work with you. That’s why it’s called negotiating!
Remember to do your homework, know the lowest you can accept, realize you can negotiate for more than just money and demonstrate WHY you’re worth the investment.
If you are really nervous, practice with a friend or your career coach. Running through the process of how to negotiate your first job offer beforehand can help you calm your nerves.