Diploma Diaries: Negotiating a Better Salary

By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University

When you’re about to start your first job out of college, having “the talk” with your soon-to-be employer can and will be a tad awkward.

Remember that negotiating your salary should be a mutual ground between you and your boss — not a day at the auction house. With these five tips, you will be well on your way to a stable paycheck!

Be Confident!

Before you even bring up numbers and timesheets, make sure you are comfortable enough to discuss compensation with your employer. Try to create an “elevator pitch” focusing on your intended salary. As you would practice any speech, write down key points and phrases you will need to hit on when discussing your pay grade. To get more comfortable, practice your “salary speak” on friends and family members.

Do Your Research

Not everyone was born an investment banker or stock broker, so how should you know what your paycheck is worth before the big meeting? Make it a vital part of your application process to look up what your intended field yields in the salary department. By talking with fellow career professionals or doing some online sleuthing on sites like Glassdoor.com, you can see what pay grades are comparable, reasonable or perhaps much higher than you are entitled to.

Value vs. Worth

As a new hire, take note of the applicant pool and how you match up against them. Providing your would-be boss with the facts instead of lofty adjectives on how determined and hardworking you will be puts your position into perspective. Take a look at your past experiences and use that to your advantage when debating your value to the entire company. While noting your ability to add value to an already compatible team exudes confidence to your boss, it’s equally as important to explain and show how you can prove your worth as an employee.

See Past Pay

Your salary is certainly a deciding factor in accepting one job over the other, but by looking past the paycheck and seeing which company offers the best advantages, you can end up negotiating much more than your income. If you’re working with a major corporation, you can find ways where the company offers great benefits besides basic health care and retirement packages. Companies also can provide education reimbursements or training investment in your given field.

Always Ask

Salary negotiation doesn’t have to end at the initial hiring process. Not dead set on your pay grade? Bring up the idea during your year review. Be persistent and allow your employer to take a second look at your value to the office once you have actually proven yourself in your ability to not only do the job requirements but move beyond them.

Also, give your boss a reason to want to pay you more! Take on additional responsibilities like individual projects, presentations or training sessions that will not only impress your employer but also give you the edge in your secondary negotiation phase.

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!