How to Negotiate Your First Job’s Salary

You might think that just getting the job is the hardest part of the interview process — but you may be wrong. Once you get the offer, you’ve still got to negotiate the terms of your hire and the salary that comes with it. And if you aren’t prepared, you might make a huge mistake.

negotiate first job salary

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Your first job offer is exciting, terrifying, and a great lesson: you’re in the real world now, and you’ll only get what you ask for. While it’s tempting to just secure the first job you can, try to have patience with the process and research your industry so you know what you’re worth.

Get them to say the first number

The first and most well-known tip is to get the other party to say the first number. Even if you know what number you’re looking for, speaking before they do means you might leave money on the table.

Traditionally, the “loser” is the one who says a number first, even though the HR manager will likely ask you for your ideal salary. Instead of giving up right away, practice answering the salary question with something polite and firm such as, “I am in a position to be flexible, so can you tell me more about your budget?”.

Always negotiate

When it comes time to discuss the position offer and the salary that comes with it, it’s important to take your time. While it may seem exciting, or they may say the right number, always take time to negotiate your first offer.

Instead of saying yes or no on the spot, ask for 24 hours or a long weekend to think it over, then come back with another number that would make you very happy. Odds are they’ll negotiation again and you’ll end up happily in the middle.

Don’t accept a “for now” number

It’s always better to start your career with a high number — almost every job you take in the future will be based on the first salary you receive. Even if you’re relieved to have an offer, try not to jump on the first job that offers if it’s nowhere near your goal salary.

Think of it this way: if your salary only jumps 10-15% at a time each time you change careers or jobs, it will take you a long time to reach your income goals.

How did you negotiate your first salary? Did it work out?


How to Negotiate Your First Job’s Salary — 8 Comments

  1. I was just talking to one of my friends and she was telling me that she took a big paycut in her most recent job. She didn’t negotiate and just took the first offer they made to her. I guess she felt like if she negotiated she would loose the job. Then when she started she found out she was the top candidate for the position. I was thinking, wow, what an opportunity she missed out on. I’m sure she could have gotten more money if she would have asked for it!

  2. Awesome article!
    Always have them offer the first number, and bring in another offer that you received. Let them call you back if you don’t respond back to them.

  3. I would always come back with a higher number. I would usually get it. In the times I didn’t, we settled on half and then a review in 6 months with the ability to get the other half. There is no reason not to negotiate. The worst that they can say is no, and in many cases, they are expecting your to come back with a number. Don’t leave that money on the table!

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