Pay negotiating

What should you be paid for your first job?

Starting your career can be exciting but how do you know what to say if an employer says, “What are you looking for salary wise?” whether that is in person or on an application? How much should you expect and how do you know if the offer is a good one? Should you, yikes – negotiate?

Many people do not feel comfortable negotiating their salary and especially in the early days. There are tips that students can use to help.

The data on the average entry level salary is hugely varied and it depends on many factors, including the sector, the geographic location of the company, the educational level and the candidate’s type of degree.

How can you work out the target entry level salary?

Taking the time to do your research is important. You can determine a salary based on averages from different sources. First narrow down the type of job you are looking for and identify a few potential titles, e.g., software engineer and software developer or marketing assistant and marketing coordinator. Next look at the salaries in the geographic area you want to work. Location plays an important part in wage rates due to the cost of living.

Once you have those basics covered you can use the following methods to help further.

Use online tools

There are free online resources to help you determine the right salary range for your first job while considering all the variables involved, for example Glassdoor. Be mindful of any article that appears to focus on the top companies as these are usually not reflective of the average wage and may lead to unrealistic expectations.

Talk to your network

People in the same field as you can be useful. Check out the alumni tool on LinkedIn and ask the contacts what the going rate is in their company – they can fill in some of the gaps in your research that are maybe not evident from data.

Finally, although you can negotiate, remember how competitive the graduate market is and consider other benefits of the jobs. Also graduate salaries can increase during the early years of your career, sometimes after your probation and when you start to make a valuable contribution to the company.