New Grads: Negotiating Your First Job Offer

by Roxanna Coldiron

Congratulations! You’ve graduated from college with several job offers in hand. Having your degree and now a job in your field happens to be one of the greatest feelings in the world. But you don’t have to accept the first job offer that comes your way. Most recent graduates aren’t aware that they can negotiate their job offers with employers.

According to Payscale, employers expect you to negotiate. You might not always able to ask for a higher salary when you’re first starting out in your career, but you do have the power to negotiate some of the terms of your employment. Remember that the employer wants to hire you because you can help them to achieve their goals. This gives you some leverage when requesting certain types of benefits to make your employment package more appealing.

Don’t worry that the employer will suddenly rescind their job offer just because you asked a few questions. A NerdWallet survey discovered that only 38 percent of respondents had even tried negotiating with their employers, when research shows that employers expect some kind of negotiations with their job offers. It doesn’t hurt to ask for more in your job offer. And while you might not get everything you request, you also might get a few more benefits than was originally provided in your initial job offer. So, what can entry-level professionals negotiate with potential employers?

Higher salary

Know how much you’re worth in your particular industry. If you’re only offered $15/hour for a position that requires a master’s degree, five years of experience (including internships) and technical expertise, then you can ask about increasing the base salary. Never be the one who broaches the subject of salary first. Once the employer discusses the rate, you can ask for more if you know what your education, experience and skill sets are worth.

Flexible start/leave times

The rigid 9-to-5 schedule doesn’t work for everyone. According to a recent study, later start times can mean more alertness throughout the day. The research was conducted on high school students, but the findings can be applied to young adults as well. Being able to enjoy a leisurely morning, eat a full breakfast, or even get in a workout before starting your day could boost your productivity for your employer and make the day more enjoyable for you as well.

More vacation time

Most employers offer paid vacation time that becomes available about six months to a year within your first job. They usually grant a few days to a week of this paid vacation. You might be able to ask for a few more days that can be added to your overall benefits package.

Student loan paydown assistance

Student loans can really weigh you down once you’re required to begin paying them back. More and more employers are offering student loan repayment assistance and that means you have even more incentive to stay with the company for a while longer. Not worrying about paying those debts will also alleviate some of the stress new graduates suffer from on a regular basis.

Just remember that you are allowed to ask questions about whatever job offer an employer gives you. You don’t need to accept it right away. Instead, make sure to read over the terms and negotiate for a better offer before you decide to take the job.

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