Negotiating your salary as an early-career employee is a challenge: After all, you can't offer a wealth of experience or specialized abilities and talents built up over the course of a career. And employees in the early stages of their career may require a lot from colleagues and managers: mentorship, direction, and training.
No wonder many millennials may feel reticent to negotiate; a survey by Nerd Wallet and Looksharp revealed that only 38% of respondents negotiated with employers. This is a real missed opportunity. Employers expect to engage in salary negotiations and often build in wiggle room while making their initial offers. Read on to find out why salary negotiation is so important for millennials—particularly in the early stages of your career—and winning strategies that can increase an offer.
Why Salary Negotiation Is So Important
There are more reasons to negotiate your salary than just getting more money in your wallet—for one thing, it shows employers that you are confident in your worth, and asserts from the get-go that you are a valuable employee. Plus, since employers often expect to negotiate, failing to do so leaves money on the table.
Negotiating those early offers reaps long-term financial rewards over the course of your career.
Percentage-based bonuses and raises will be bigger, for instance, if your starting salary is that much higher. Plus, salaries tend to follow you from job to job: During interviews, you may be asked about your current salary or your salary history. However, is some locations employers are prohibited from asking.
6 Salary Negotiation Tips for Millennials
1. Do Your Homework
Similar roles in similar industries tend to have something else in common: the salary range. Note that geography can play a big role as well—the same job, even for the same company, may have a different salary on the coasts, where the cost of living is high, compared to areas with a lower cost-of-living.
Salary numbers are often opaque. Friends, family, and co-workers can be reluctant to share details. The internet, however, and anonymous surveys, can help you research industry salaries, or even salary ranges at a specific company. Try sites like FairyGodBoss, Payscale, and Glassdoor to learn more about industries and companies. And use free salary calculators to help know what offers to expect.
2. Consider the Full Package—Not Just the Salary
Before a job offer, the salary can feel like the biggest question mark, and also the biggest motivating factor. But other benefits make a big financial difference to your life, too: A match in your retirement account, for instance, is basically the same as salary (it's just money that you won't be able to touch for years and years).
If there isn't much room for you to negotiate for the salary, see if there is any wiggle room for better benefits and perks: You can ask for more vacation days, a consistent work-from-home day, stock offerings, or other non-salary perks. Here are important questions to ask about the benefits package and some perks that may be negotiable.
3. Be Reasonable in Your Asks
The millennial generation is often summed up with one word: entitled. Setting aside whether that's true or not—it can be argued that it's not a fair or accurate assessment—the reality is it's one of the many assumptions millennials face during the job application process. Avoid feeding into it by being reasonable in your requests throughout negotiation.
Ask for one or two things—negotiating for a higher salary, more vacation days, and a change to the leave policy is perhaps too many requests and might make the company wonder if you are even planning on working. Before you negotiate, make sure you know how to make a counteroffer, and what's reasonable to ask for.
4. But Do Always Ask—Especially If You're a Woman
Here's the flipside to being reasonable in your salary request: If you don't ask, you don't get. It's a cliché for a reason—companies do typically expect a certain level of negotiation. While it's possible your counteroffer will be turned down flat, it's also possible that you will get a bit more money (if not your entire request). Don't leave money on that table!
And if you're a woman, this advice goes double: That's because as of 2018, women make 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. There are many complicated factors influencing the discrepancy between male and female wages in the United States, but one of them is that women are less likely to negotiate a job offer. Here are strategies women can use to negotiate a higher salary.
5. Take a Moment
An important thing to remember about salary negotiations is that you're not playing a card game or making a wager on Jeopardy. You don't have endless time to deliberate and research, but you're not going to get played off the stage for spending a few hours—or even a day—planning a counter offer or thinking about how to negotiate. Take the time to evaluate the job offer to make sure it's the right opportunity to you. Your patience may even encourage the company to make a counter offer without you requesting it!
6. Make a Good Argument
It's possible that a company may offer X dollars, and when you counter with "I'd like Y dollars," the company will agree. But it's a better plan to make a pitch for why you deserve more. Your research can help. Instead of saying "I'd like Y dollars," you can say, "In industry X, a salary of Y dollars is more common."
Reminding an employer of industry standards is a successful technique. But even better is to frame your negotiation in terms of the benefits you'd bring the company—remind the employer of why they offered you the job, and want you on their team. Also, be careful about how you ask. There are some things that won't help you get a better offer if you mention them during salary negotiations.