Attention, Fresh Grads: Here's How to Negotiate Your Starting Salary

by Leika Golez   |  Feb 9, 2022
Image: The Devil Wears Prada/20th Century Studios
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After braving countless interviews and frustrating resume drafts, you finally get a job offer for a position at your dream company. Congrats! 

The not-so-good news: The salary is lower than you expected, and you’re not sure how to negotiate with little to no work experience under your belt. We know it may seem intimidating, but fresh graduates do deserve to negotiate their starting salary! Just make sure you go to that negotiation meeting prepared so you don’t come off as overeager or entitled. 

Tips to help you negotiate the starting salary you want: 

1. Map out your expenses.

First thing’s first: List down all your projected monthly expenses so you have a general idea of how much you actually need. Now’s the perfect time to think about what you plan to do in the next three to five years. Are you finally moving out or will you continue living with your parents? How long do you intend to stay at your first job? What are the things that you can’t give up buying? Knowing these factors will help you identify the minimum starting salary to sustain your current lifestyle. 

2. Do your research.

Take the time to learn about your specific job industry, from your position’s typical salary range to your potential employer’s business objectives. You can consult with professionals in the field (Tip: approach previous professors and former org leaders) or read reviews on online job platforms like Glassdoor and Linkedin. Compile all your notes in one place so you have info to reference while talking to your future employer. 


3. Consider the job benefits.

Keep in mind that your base pay is just one part of the compensation package. Before you make your final decision, ask the recruiter about the job’s non-monetary perks, too. This includes HMO plans, travel reimbursements, vacation leaves, shopping discounts, and many more. Although oftentimes overlooked by fresh grads, these benefits still give you further room for negotiation. For example, if your future office is far from where you live, consider asking for a commute or gasoline allowance instead of a higher base salary. On the contrary, you can also sacrifice certain benefits for higher pay. 

4. Assert your value.

It’s not enough to say that you tick all their boxes—you have to actually demonstrate the unique skills you can bring to the company. Go back to your research and think about opportunities that only you can offer to the team. If it’s your passion, let them know that you’re willing to work long hours. If it’s your competence, tell them about that time you handled a crisis situation in your college org. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to sell yourself if you know you can deliver. 

5. Prepare a backup plan

Sometimes, negotiations end up going nowhere—and that’s okay. On the off chance that they turn down your request, be ready to respond with a plan B. You can choose to negotiate further, accept their initial offer, or turn down the job completely. We suggest taking some time to think about the decision for as long as the recruiter allows so you don’t act impulsively. We’re all for setting realistic expectations, but don’t pressure yourself to compromise just because.

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Remember: You’re a talented and hard-working applicant who deserves to be compensated fairly. Never settle for anything less than your value. We’re totally rooting for you! 


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Leika Golez
Candy Staff Writer
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