For many new college graduates, itís time to learn a skill that will serve them throughout their careersó negotiating a salary.
Yes, even those seeking entry-level jobs might be able to squeeze a little more out of a prospective employer by playing their cards right.
An improved job market favors new grads. A few years ago, grads were lucky to get any offer. Now some grads are getting more than one. And competing offers put job seekers in an even better position to negotiate, says Brian Krueger, president of CollegeGrad.com.
If you donít have a job offer yet, donít panic. But donít kick back, either. "Itís time to double-down," Krueger says. "Your full-time job is job searching."
Know your worth
The first step to negotiating is to be prepared, Krueger says. That means knowing what youíre worth even before an employer talks money.
Liberal arts majors are on the low end; engineers and technology grads on the high side. To find income figures for your field and locale, check out www.salary.com.
It doesnít hurt to ask for more pay. "The odds of getting more salary are infinitely higher if you ask than if you donít," Coleman says.
But you need a good reason why you deserve more.
"It shouldnít be, ĎI just want more,í" Coleman says.
Donít be greedy
You might be able to show that entry-level salaries in your field are higher than whatís being offered, or that those internships you did add up to yearís worth of experience, experts say. Donít be greedy.
"You walk a fine line," says Steve Schneiders, director of Sudina Search Inc. "If someone offers you 45,000 and you say, `Iíd like to have 48,000,í thatís reasonable. If someone offers 45,000 and you ask for 60,000, youíre out of line."
Donít overlook the value of benefits. One companyís perks might be rich enough that youíre better off there than at another job that pays more.
Some benefits are more meaningful to young adults than others, too. A generous 401(k) match from an employer is like money in the bank for young workers, Coleman says. Term life insurance, though, is less valuable for young adults with no one dependent on their income. Prospective employers that canít budge on salary might negotiate extra perks, like additional vacation days, experts say.
Of course, a job is more than just the money, particularly the first job out of college. The skills and connections youíll pick up at a company can be priceless.
"What youíre doing is building the foundation of your career," Coleman says. "What is important is what you are going to learn, who are you going to know and what you get to put on your resume when itís time to move on."