Salary negotiation can be difficult for anyone, regardless of age. Still, recent graduates seem to be more anxious about it than the previous generation. After several years of un(der)paid internships, any kind of money may seem like a lot. This results in a situation when graduates are happy for having received any kind of offer.

Yet, well-handled salary negotiations lead to satisfaction on both sides.

Salary negotiation is almost always at least partially successful. Don’t be anxious about it.

According to a survey done by the online financial service NerdWallet and the job service Looksharp, fresh graduates tend to be quite shy when negotiating their first salaries.

“84% of employers are willing to increase their initial offer by as much as 10%.”

Even an entry-level candidate is expected to negotiate. And to be successful at that.

The success rate is high.

  • Only 38% recent graduates negotiate their salaries.
  • 84% of employers are willing to increase their initial offers by as much as 10%.
  • Only 10% of employers ever withdrew an offer because a candidate tried to negotiate.
  • 76% of employers consider candidates, who attempt to negotiate, confident for doing so.
  • Female candidates are less likely to negotiate than their male counterparts. When they attempt to do so, their success rate is similar—about 80%.

I cannot stress this enough—do negotiate. The numbers show you can only gain. As a fresh graduate, you cannot use your experience as leverage. Keep in mind good companies are always on a lookout for people who show potential.

6 Tips for Negotiating Salary

Salary negotiations are not risky. Still, it is not enough to simply ask for a salary increase—you have to do it right.

  1. Postpone salary negotiation until you’re offered the job. First, let your potential employer decide whether you’re the right candidate. People are always slightly reluctant to change their previous decisions. Use this to your advantage.
  2. Be enthusiastic. Even if the offer is lower than you expected, do not show disappointment. After all, an offer is an offer. Remain positive and always express excitement before you begin to negotiate.
  3. Don’t rush it. Unless it’s your dream job, don’t feel the need to accept right away. If you feel pressured, ask to review the offer in writing. You want to make sure you’re making the right decision. Don’t wait too long, though. They want to fill the position as soon as possible.
  4. Do your research. Making unreasonable requests does not show you in a favourable light. It’s vital that you know at least an approximate salary range for your position. When in doubt, ask for a 10 percent increase from their initial offer.
  5. Be prepared to explain what do you want and why you want it. If possible, explain how it will benefit the company. Do not assume that simply asking for an increase is going to be enough. Always assume the employer is on your side but everyone has their limits. Defend your case but remain thoughtful in doing it.
  6. Make your decision. In the end, you will have to decide. If you decide to accept the offer, communicate positive enthusiasm. If not, express gratitude. In either case, you don’t want to close off an opportunity for them to come back with another offer.

NB: In some situations, negotiations would be inappropriate or unlikely to succeed. First, jobs in a very structured environment; e.g. government or military jobs. Second, where there’s a large amount of supply, such as an entry-level barista.