Your first job as a university graduate is a big deal. It’s the real thing. At this point, employers aren’t just looking for bodies to fill a position and jobs are no longer part-time – this is the beginning of your career.
Part of starting any new job is the discussion of pay and potential benefits, and while many believe negotiating a contract with an employer comes only to those with experience under their belts, it certainly isn’t always the case. As a graduate new to the workforce, negotiating your contract can feel like a daunting task, but with the right amount of research and professionalism, negotiating your first contract can work out in your favor. Check out this list of tips TalentEgg has put together with key points to keep in mind when negotiating that contract!
Assertive doesn’t mean aggressive
There’s a difference between asking for certain things when signing a contract and demanding them. It’s perfectly fine to be confident in yourself as long as the confidence isn’t confused with entitlement. Remember the employer has the final say about your salary and compensation, so fighting them on every point won’t leave a good impression. Professional courtesy with the right amount of charm will put employers at ease, and gives them the idea that you have an understanding of how the negotiation process works.
A good negotiation stems from doing your homework. The more you know about the company and the market they’re in, the better. Websites like PayScale.com and Salary.com are a great way to learn what the average salary of a particular role is. If they’re available and up-to-date, printing off salary descriptions to bring into a meeting as reference points is a good idea.
Make sure you think about the company’s perspective as well – how big is the company? Do they have the resources to meet your needs? How do they compare to others in the industry? Understanding what you’re walking into is always a plus.
Practice makes perfect
Negotiating your first contract is not the time to “wing it.” You should prepare a greeting statement as well as responses to any questions that could come up during the meeting. Having a mock negotiation with a friend is a great way to practice going over your responses so you’re prepared for any situation.
That being said, you want to come across as natural in the meeting, so make sure you aren’t memorizing your answers. Just become comfortable with your answers, practice speaking at a slow, relaxed pace, and try not to fidget to avoid sounding nervous.
Recognize full compensation
Just because the company doesn’t have room for more financial compensation doesn’t signal the end of negotiations. Recognizing full compensation – including more vacation time or added insurance coverage or benefits – is a crucial part to signing a new contract. A flexible schedule, increased vacation time, and either a company car or car allowance are all apart of the compensation package that you can negotiate.
Ask yourself why?
When you begin negotiations for a promotion or increase in salary, your employer will immediately think “what does he/she have to offer?”, so you need to be able to justify the why you deserve it. Be specific in identifying key areas of the company that you intend work on and what makes you a valuable employee. This will help give the company a sense of confidence in their decision to hire you, and it makes you look confident in your abilities – it’s a win-win!
If your new employer offers you a starting salary of $50,000, asking for 20 per cent more is unrealistic and doesn’t look good on your part. While the negotiation process is common to almost every industry, remember that you still want to create a good first impression. Pushing too hard for further compensation can come off as rude and unprofessional, and while it’s rare for an employer to renege a contract, asking for too much can put a strain on your new relationship.
Ask for time
Asking for time to read over your employer’s offer is perfectly acceptable and often expected. Many employers will give you about two weeks to look over your options, but keep in mind the company is looking to fill the position, so try not to keep them waiting too long.
Sometimes you won’t have two weeks – for instance, if a position has become vacant unexpectedly and the employer is looking to fill the gap quickly. In these situations, the time to read over the contract and assess the situation could only be days. This is another reason why doing your research on potential employers ahead of time is important.
Since a negotiation takes place between two or more parties, concessions on both ends will have to be made. Once you’ve made a list of all the compensations you want to negotiate, rank each of them from least to most important. If it’s the salary increase you’re after, be prepared to possibly sacrifice increased vacation days and visa versa.
Remember – your employer will have their own prioritized list of compensations. If you’re lucky, they may be willing to give what you want to most, in which case the negotiation process is quick and simple. If not, you may need to make some compromises to find a balance.
Negotiating your first contract out of university can seem daunting at best. As a fresh-faced graduate, it can seem like you hold little power. But by painting an image of a successful and ambitious employee, negotiating with your employer can be a positive experience. Just remember: Do your research, remain respectful but know what you want, and above all else, understand that negotiating is a skill that takes practice. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t go the way you planned, you’ll have plenty of other chances throughout the years. This is your career after all!