Negotiating a salary at your first job after graduation

Now guys, I’m not going to pretend that I have any firsthand experience in this. But I have been pretty concerned getting a job for a while now, so this is something I’ve definitely done my research on, with almost every online resource I could find. Not to mention, some of my advice comes from my all-knowing professors.

So you’re a college student, and being such, you’re not expecting to get very many perks at your first job. But that really doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate a better salary or better benefits. You just have to do your research, and then be persuasive.

Step 1. Look into what people in your intended career position typically get paid, both nationally and regionally. For regional information, you can use a site like to tell you what you can expect to make in a certain city or town. For more general, national information, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has a salary survey that stays up to date.

Step 2. Research the specific company that you are applying at. Are they currently doing well financially, or are they struggling? Can you find out what they usually pay their employees? Do they typically hire from within the company? Sometimes, union policy can tie a company’s hands when it comes to salary negotiation, so you may just have to deal with it if that is the case.

Step 3. Know your strengths and skills. You may just be a college grad, but there are still skills and experiences that you have accrued that set you apart from the other potential hires. Have your snappy list of three or four things that make you a good fit for this company at the front of your mind when it comes to salary negotiation time.

Step 4. Don’t bring up your salary. You don’t want to talk about salary until you are fairly certain that they want to hire you. If they ask you questions about your expected salary early on in the interview process, deflect the question by saying something like “I’m sure we can come to an agreement on that, but right now I’m just focused on seeing if I’m a good fit for the company.”

Step 5. When it is finally salary negotiation time, get them to indicate a salary range. Using the word ‘range’ might make them feel more comfortable. That way, they don’t have to give you an exact number yet. If the number seems on the low side, do not act offended, and do not act cocky. You can indicate that you have other job interviews lined up if that is the case, but don’t be overt about it. Bring up your research about the typical pay for someone in your position. Bring up the skills you are bringing to the company. Be confident and positive, and odds are you will boost your salary by a few thousand dollars.