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Negotiating Your Starting Salary Mythbusters
May 3, 2016
Is Journalism Dead

When spring internships come to an end, a full-time job may be your next hurdle. But before accepting the second you get an offer, take a breath. Even if you’ve never had a salary before, here’s some mythbusters about negotiating your starting salary.

If you’re a rookie, negotiating this early in the game is intimidating, and you may be afraid you’ll lose the offer. Here’s some common fears and myths, and what employers are really thinking.

Your fears about negotiating, debunked:

Myth: This is my first job, with no past experience. Who am I to negotiate?

Reality: Employers actually have room to give you more money

“Employers expect candidates to negotiate salary,” says Lydia Frank, editorial and marketing director at Payscale. “Employers are giving themselves a bit of room, around 5 to 10 %. It’s better to let you feel like you’re negotiating, so they build in a buffer. If you don’t, then they get you at a bargain.”

Another big factor: employers may be taking advantage of people just starting off in their careers. They know young professionals may not know the art of negotiating, or are too afraid to do it, so more than likely, they may be lowballing you. Do a little research on sites such as Glassdoor to see what the median salary is for your role and in the area you’re working in. If the number offered to you is below the average, don’t be afraid to speak up. 

Myth: There’s 300 other people well qualified and in line for this job. The company has nothing to lose and I have everything to lose.

Reality: It’s a pain for the company to start the search all over again.

Finding a perfect candidate for a job is like finding a perfect match in a sea of bad dates. Starting all over again is arduous and time-consuming. If a company really likes you enough to offer you the job, more than likely, they’ll be willing to negotiate with you—at least a little bit.

Know your own value

What’s more, if you know your own value, as the company already does (otherwise they wouldn’t have offered the job to you), negotiating your salary to a more suitable range shows that you know your worth too, and that you won’t settle. You can also leverage this by saying you want to eventually take leadership roles and work harder to complete your tasks, projects and goals. You can also negotiate things such as additional vacation time, benefits or a flexible schedule if more money is completely out of the question.

Myth: I can always make more money later. Hey, this is just my first job!

Reality: Asking for more now sets you up for more money during your entire career.

“Your first job can impact the trajectory of pay,” said Frank. “Employers ask about salary history, so if you allow yourself to take a lower job offer, you could be setting up yourself lower. A study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that a $5,000 raise on $55,000 annually would result in an extra $600,000 earned over a 40-year career.

They key here is: have confidence! The worst they can say is no. If that’s the case, accept the offer but ask if you can be re-evaluated in 6 months. If you feel you are truly being taken advantage of, sometimes it’s OK to walk away.