Negotiating Salary as a New Graduate

Congratulations soon-to-be Pitt graduate or recent graduate! Landing the job is just the beginning; negotiating your salary is pivotal in ensuring you are fairly compensated for your skills and potential, experience, and the value you bring to the table. But don’t stop there; consider benefits, bonuses, and other perks that should align with your position and contributions.

Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, a former Wall Street lawyer turned Executive and Leadership Coach, wisely states, “Negotiating your salary benefits your current career positioning, your future career trajectory, the women you work with and mentor, and the pay gap as a whole. And while the money matters to be sure, the benefits of successfully negotiating your value are also priceless to your self-esteem. Learn to negotiate your salary, and your entire career will be better for it.”

In this blog post, we’ll explore the art of salary negotiation, resources to research your industry and worth, and additional considerations specifically tailored for new graduates.

Let’s begin with understanding the “why” of salary negotiation:

Career Trajectory

Negotiating your salary has long-term consequences for your career trajectory. A higher starting salary can lead to increased earnings over the years, as future raises and bonuses are often based on a percentage of your current salary. By negotiating well today, you’re setting yourself up for financial success in the future.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Salary negotiation isn’t just about you; it’s also about closing the gender pay gap. Women, on average, earn less than men for the same work. By negotiating your salary, you contribute to breaking down the systemic barriers that perpetuate this disparity. You pave the way for future generations of women to earn what they deserve.

Mentorship and Role Modeling

When you successfully negotiate your salary, you become a role model for others, especially women, in your workplace. Your actions inspire others to advocate for themselves, creating a more equitable work environment. You can also mentor colleagues on negotiation strategies, further empowering them to claim their worth.

Let’s delve further into the “how” of salary negotiation. Here are some essential tips to help you master this skill:

The Power of Research

Research is your best friend in salary negotiations. Understand industry salary benchmarks for your role and location. Before entering into negotiations, take advantage of the plethora of resources available to research your industry and job role. Here are some invaluable sources:

Choose the Right Time

Timing is key. Initiate the salary discussion after you’ve received a job offer. Express your enthusiasm for the role and your commitment to contributing to the company’s success. Then, inquire about salary and benefits.

Be Confident and Courteous

Approach negotiations with confidence but maintain professionalism and courtesy. Remember that you’re advocating for your worth, not demanding it. Be assertive yet open to a constructive dialogue.

Consider the Full Package

Salary is just one part of your compensation. Don’t forget to discuss benefits, bonuses, stock options, and other perks. These can significantly impact your overall financial well-being.

The Negotiation Process

Understanding Counterpart’s Reasoning and Sources of Resistance:

  • Logic (Research and Data): Support your negotiation with research and data to demonstrate your worth and market value.
  • Emotion (Not Being Money-Hungry): Show that your negotiation is about fair compensation based on industry standards, not greed.
  • Resistance to Change: Address concerns about setting precedents and reassure that your request is within reason and industry norms.
  • Limits Testing (Capacity and Authority): Clarify your capacity and authority to negotiate and establish your worth within the organization.
  • Organizational Constraint: Understand any company-specific constraints that may affect the negotiation.

Considerations for Seeking a Mutually Beneficial Result:

  • Employers hope you’ll accept the first offer to save money, but they don’t expect you to take the low offer.
  • Evaluate the entire offer before making a decision.
  • Back up your request with evidence of your value, such as previous experience and market research.
  • Negotiate on factors that matter most to you.
  • Focus on building a positive relationship and avoid burning bridges.

Managing Multiple Offers:

  • If you have multiple offers, ask for more time to consider them.
  • Connect with other employers to ensure you make an informed decision.

Accepting the Offer:

  • Trust your instincts when accepting an offer.
  • Choose the offer that aligns best with your goals and needs.
  • Express your acceptance, gratitude, and excitement for the opportunity.
  • Celebrate your decision and share the news with your network.

Be Prepared to Walk Away:

  • It’s acceptable to decline an offer if it doesn’t meet your needs or expectations.
  • Clearly communicate what’s important to you, whether it’s salary, job duties, or training.
  • Maintain a positive tone and express your continued interest in the company if circumstances change.
  • Keep searching for a job that aligns with your requirements and salary expectations.

Follow Up

Once you’ve reached an agreement, ensure that all details are documented in writing. This includes your salary, benefits, start date, and any other negotiated terms. Following up in this manner ensures clarity and prevents misunderstandings.

In conclusion, salary negotiation is a vital skill that empowers you to claim what you’re worth, contribute to closing the gender pay gap, and set a positive example for your colleagues. By mastering this art, you not only enhance your current career positioning but also pave the way for a more prosperous future. So, remember Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin’s wise words and embark on your salary negotiation journey with confidence. Your career and your self-esteem will thank you for it.

By Ingrid Beute
Ingrid Beute Career Consultant, Engineering & Science & Career Champions Program Coordinator