Many first-time job seekers are so eager that they accept the first job offer given to them. This can be a mistake. The salary you accept for your first position can influence your earning power, even your career growth, for years. So even first-time job seekers should be prepared to evaluate an offer and, if necessary, negotiate it.
Begin by uncovering what the market dictates the pay is for a position like the one for which you have applied. This can be done through online resources such as glassdoor.com, payscale.com or another of the many salary websites. It can also be done through interviews with both recruiters and other professionals in the field. Ask others, even ones currently doing the exact type of job if you can find them, “What do you think is a fair salary range for this position?”
Understanding what a fair salary is for the position, you will have a base for your negotiations. With this value in mind, decide what you would consider to be a great job. Base this on fair market value and what you bring to the table. Also know your bottom line, the lowest level of pay you can accept. Be realistic with your expectations, as an entry-level job seeker you shouldn’t expect to make the same starting salary as someone who has several years of experience or a skill set you don’t yet possess.
Finally, when you get an offer and decide you want to negotiate, remember that there are things other than salary to consider. Benefits — medical, paid time off, career development and ongoing education — are great ways to raise the value of an offer without raising the actual salary.
Also think about your future and how this job will (or won’t) position you for where you want to go. There are cases in which slightly less pay is a fair tradeoff for a job that will put you in a position to achieve your long-term goals. Sometimes though, accepting a lower-paying job can hinder your career direction for years. So negotiate. Most everyone else does.