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Graduate jobs: How to negotiate your first salary 💸

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Contemplating a graduate job offer, or awaiting your annual review?

Negotiating your salary in a graduate job is never an easy task, but it’s best to get to grips with it early on – as it will crop up throughout your graduate career.

If you’re not sure how to broach the subject, these tips will help you prepare for those important next steps.

Learn to talk about money as a graduate

The question “What do you earn?” is not something that’s usually asked in conversations as the topic is considered a bit of a taboo.

This lack of discussion creates negative connotations around salaries, but if you’re feeling unsure and looking for advice, getting confidential feedback from friends and family will be great practice for when you need to deal with this in the future.

For more advice about salary, check out our blog with tips on how to answer the common graduate interview question “what salary are you looking for?


Understand your worth

Carrying out extensive research will enable you to build a strong case for why your employer should give you a pay rise.

Understanding the market and your worth within it is an invaluable starting point – comparing your salary and offered pay rise to the market average for your industry, experience, and similar graduate jobs will present you with the best place to start when negotiating a salary.


Sell yourself by showing your value

Keeping a log of all the work you do whilst in your graduate job, whether it’s technical experience, customer feedback, industry expertise or a new qualification, will help support your negotiation case.

Collating this information and keeping it in one place means you can concentrate on putting the best argument together for yourself, rather than trying to gather your evidence last minute.


Know your numbers

You should be going into the salary negotiation meeting with figures clear in your head.

Make a mental note of the exact figure you want, then ask for more – you will usually be negotiated down, which will hopefully leave you around the number you deserve.

It’s better to have an exact figure rather than a range – going in with a range suggests to your Manager that you’re willing to concede from the start.

Don’t be put off by reaching for higher – your market worth and personal value make for a great case.


Don’t try to fill in the silent gaps

Filling silences unnecessarily is a common mistake, but the best negotiators in the world know how to use the power of silence to their advantage.

Make your case and let your manager fill the silence – you don’t want to offer a compromise you didn’t mean to in a panic to keep the conversation going. Check out our top tips on how not to ramble in interviews.


If at first you don’t succeed…

Employers might not always be in the position to negotiate salaries, but that doesn’t mean it should end there.

There are other avenues and company perks you can discuss e.g. paid holiday, pension schemes, health insurance plans (if you don’t already have one in place), along with other benefits such as bringing your dog to work.

Remember you do have the skills the company were looking for, otherwise, they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place.

The first hurdle is believing you’re worth the money you’re asking for, otherwise the employer won’t so be confident when presenting your facts and figures.

Find more career advice on our advice for graduates – or start your graduate job search here.


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