How can I prepare to negotiate my first job offer?

How can I prepare to negotiate my first job offer?

First of all, congratulations on graduating and being successful in your job search. That is a big deal and deserves to be acknowledged. There are some key points that can help make your career a little more rewarding, and one of those is through negotiation. That word draws many different feelings from people, some love it, and some hate it. I would like to share some tips to make it easy and not-so-scary. 

  • Do not bring up salary until they do.  
  • You must prepare for the negotiation, like researching what you’re worth. 
  • Know what you desire and why you deserve it.   
  • Even if you are comfortable with the salary, you can negotiate other terms like starting date, time-off, relocation stipend, etc.  
  • Just try. If you are respectful, the worst they can say is no.  

Negotiation can be scary for first-time job seekers, but it can set you up for more compensation and benefits throughout your entire career. When negotiating salary, you need to prepare. Know your worth. If you believe you deserve more compensation, be ready to explain why. For example, did you have internships, do you have special skills, or have you shown leadership in a school club that makes you better than the average entry-level employee? There are resources that can help as well. For instance, the College of ACES at UIUC publishes the average salaries of former students for every concentration.  

Sometimes you may receive an offer from your dream job, and if you are worried about negotiating, it's okay to take the job and love your career. Although through negotiation, you may be able to get more benefits or a later start date. Once you graduate, you're in the work world. If you have always wanted to take a trip, ask for a later start date, most employers will be accommodating. Negotiation can and will help you get more than your peers that do not negotiate. Take a chance, and you might be surprised by what you can obtain.

Written by Chet Stock, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Spring 2021. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.

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