Should you negotiate an entry-level salary?

Here are some considerations to take into account as you decide whether to negotiate your entry-level salary.

As a recent college graduate, you probably have a lot of questions about your impending job search. What should you wear to interviews? What's the best way to cold call companies? And once you've secured a job offer, should you try to negotiate your salary?

There's no simple answer to the question of compensation negotiations, as your situation will depend on your industry, prior experience and other factors. Here are some considerations to take into account as you decide whether to negotiate your entry-level salary.

"Research starting salaries for your industry."

What's the industry like?
Certain college majors, like accounting, computer science and mechanical engineering, are increasingly sought after in workplaces across the country, making these employers more open to negotiation. Before you go on job interviews, be sure to research the industry to find out what average starting salaries for newcomers are like. If the offer is lower than the industry average, this is an instance where a little bit of negotiation is merited.

However, there are many highly competitive industries where there are more candidates than there are jobs. In these companies, starting salaries are usually firmly set. If you're working in a field like marketing and vying against other candidates with the same qualifications, negotiating a higher pay isn't strategic. In these cases, it's better to take the proposed salary - assuming it's reasonable - and negotiate a pay raise once you've established yourself within the company.

Do you have exceptional experience?
Another condition that allows you more leeway when it comes to salary negotiations is experience. It's safe to assume that most candidates you're competing against have similar degrees, as well as a few internships or past jobs. If you have exceptional experience in the industry or an extremely desirable skill that sets you apart from other applicants, these factors will allow you to barter for higher pay.

Regardless of what your valuable experience is, it's imperative that you're prepared to show the employer why your background merits higher pay. You shouldn't ask for an increased salary just because you want it - you need a compelling argument as to why the company would benefit from your experiences.

You may not be able to get a higher salary, but there are other benefits available, like the option to telecommute.

Can you negotiate other benefits?
Even if salary negotiations are out of the question, there are other benefits that your potential employer may be open to discussing. Look into industry standards when it comes to paid vacation time, telecommuting options, relocation assistance, tuition reimbursements and bonuses. While these benefits don't directly contribute to your paycheck, they're all highly desirable for full-time workers and will make your new position more satisfying. Ask your interviewer if the company is willing to discuss any of these aspects in place of salary negotiations.

If you're still not sure if it's appropriate to negotiate your compensation or if you need tips on how to prompt the conversation, talk with your staffing consultant or a career advisor.

This content brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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