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Top 4 Tips to Snagging a Higher Salary at Your First Job

Scoring your first job out of college is an important step on your career path and it’s one that can have long-term financial implications. You may think that since you’re a newbie, there’s no room for negotiating your salary. But not doing it at all is a potentially costly mistake for now and for later. When it comes to getting paid what you’re worth, here are the most important bargaining tips to keep in mind.

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1. Do Your Homework

If your future employer has made a salary offer, it’s a good idea to only throw out a higher amount if you can back it up. Checking out similar positions in your chosen career path can give you an idea of what other recent grads are taking home. Sites like PayScale and Glassdoor can give you a ballpark figure of what companies are paying.

The next step is mapping out what it is your new job requires that could justify getting a higher salary. What you’re really trying to do here is figure out what’s most valuable to the company. If you know that your role involves doing x, y and z, ask yourself what else you can do to make it worth your employer’s while to tack a few extra bucks onto your base pay.

2. Look at the Big Picture

Top 4 Tips to Snagging a Higher Salary at Your First Job

Your salary is just one component of your benefits package. Depending on your employer, you may also be looking at things like a retirement plan, profit-sharing opportunities, sick leave, vacation time, insurance, expense accounts and other perks. If you think there’s a chance your request for a higher salary could lead to a big fat “no,” negotiating a more inclusive benefits package can balance things out a bit.

For example, you could ask if working from home one day a week is possible or if you can up your moving allowance. If you’re still running into a brick wall, you might have to consider whether the effort you’ll be putting in is worth what your employer’s giving back.

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3. Don’t Ask, Tell

Obviously you want to mind your manners when you’re talking salary with the hiring manager. But no matter how politely you ask for a larger pay raise, it’s probably not going to cut it if you can’t back it up. Instead of saying, “Can I have X amount of money?” it’s a good idea to be prepared to prove to the company why making a bigger investment in you makes sense.

This is where the research you did earlier comes into play. Being able to point to a specific problem that you know how to solve can give the employer something solid to go on in order to gauge your skill set. Telling them how you plan to meet and exceed their expectations for the role can reassure them that they’re going to get their money’s worth if they agree to bump up your salary.

4. Believe You’re Worth It

Top 4 Tips to Snagging a Higher Salary at Your First Job

Aside from a well thought out argument for why you deserve more money, a confident attitude is the most valuable tool you can bring to the table. When you’re trying to negotiate your way to a higher salary, you’re essentially trying to sell yourself. If you can’t show your future manager that you’ll be an asset to your team, you could have a tough time convincing them to buy your offer.

Photo credit: © Debenport, © Benedek, © Klubovy

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She's worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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