Written by Kaitlyn Penrod, Account Supervisor for the JAJ Enterprises account team.

As graduation nears, college seniors like myself are trying to answer the question, what’s next? What job, position, industry and city? One question mixed in the array of “what’s next” questions that isn’t talked about as openly is how much? 

Students across the country go to college with the ultimate goal of obtaining a degree, (hopefully) receiving a job offer and in return, earning a salary. But how do you know how much you’re worth? As recent graduates it can be hard to determine your negotiating power once you receive your first full-time job offer, as it is your first full-time offer after all.

Here are 5 tips that can help you determine the appropriate response to initiate a salary negotiation:

Be grateful. Your first response to a job offer should be gratitude and include a “thank you so much for the offer,” no matter what the offer is.

Take your time. According to Money.com, almost half of U.S. workers simply accept the first offer they receive.  As a recent graduate, it can be tempting to take the first offer— however, employers expect you to negotiate so taking the first offer could give you the lower end of the salary they were willing to give. You can buy yourself some time by asking to take a few days to review the offer in writing.

Do your research. By asking for a few days to review the offer in writing, you allow yourself the time to asses the offer and justify your request for more money. The best way to do this is to use glassdoor.com to review similar offers and utilize PayScale’s “What am I worth” salary report. PayScale’s “What am I worth” tool allows you to find the salary range of your offer based on your experience, the position, company and city. Being able to come back to the employer with a counter offer based on data shows that you are well informed and prepared.

Consider the total package. Salary isn’t the only thing to consider, as health and dental insurance, vacation time, retirement packages, moving expenses and signing bonuses can all make up a job offer package. Also, if your employer isn’t willing to budge on salary you can negotiate other perks; for a list of other negotiable aspects of a job offer take a look at Monster’s 6 Things to Negotiate When an Employer Won’t Budge on Pay.

Be prompt and prepared. Once you’ve done your research and created an explanation for your ask, email the employer your detailed ask— your prompt reply will be appreciated. When you explain your reason for asking for something whether that be more money, a different start date or moving expenses, be prepared to explain what you want, the data you found to back it up and how it could benefit the employer.

Remember to not be afraid to ask for more money, as a research article “Who Asks and Who Receives in Salary Negotiation,” by Crystal Harold and Michelle Marks, concluded that “a 25-year-old who negotiated a starting salary of $55,000 will earn $634,000 more than a non-negotiator who accepted an initial offer of $50,000” (assuming a 5% average annual pay increase over a 40-year career). Before you do though, make sure to do your research and consider all options.

Kaitlyn Penrod will be graduating this June with a major in public relations and a minor in business administration from the University of Oregon. She currently serves as the Account Supervisor for JAJ enterprises. Outside of AHPR, Kaitlyn has gained experience through her internships with the Oregon football team and ESPN , which she hopes to use to obtain a career within the sports industry.  

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