Erin Berthon

Erin Berthon, MA Career Manager, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, at Chapman University

After graduation, you may just feel happy to have gotten a job and confident that the company or organization will offer you the best salary. This idea can not be more wrong! Knowing how to negotiate salary provides a valuable skill that can help to ensure you are fairly compensated for what you are worth and what you will be doing. However, like any other skill, it takes preparation and practice to do this effectively. To put you at ease, most employers expect pay negotiation, and when done right, this can set up your earnings to be in the right direction.

Here are some simple steps to help you.


The phrase “negotiating pay” may seem a bit scary, especially for recent graduates. In fact, think of negotiating your salary as a perfect time to show employers the value of your college education and all the relevant experiences you had along the way. Make sure you include research, internships, leadership involvement, and relevant projects. This also shows self-worth, confidence, and a high performance from the very beginning.


Negotiating salary for your first job is a lot different than your fifth job. Evaluate the going rate for a similar position within the same location and level. An excellent place to do your research is on Here you can find out a fair salary range and go from there. Next, you need to evaluate yourself and what you can bring to the table. Again, this is where you touch on those leadership experiences, internships, and other transferable skills you learned while being at Chapman. It would help if you also had all your talking points ready. As a first job, you still need to ask yourself, “Why do I deserve a higher salary than what I was offered?” Being prepared to answer this question will allow you to respond with confidence.


When negotiating your salary, you need to take into consideration the whole package. Benefits can be costly, and if the company or organization picks up a good percentage of the health and dental package, it can be worth the pay you are offered. In addition, looking into their retirement match, sick and vacation time, and some places may even offer help with tuition forgiveness. You must consider these when it comes time to evaluate salary.


Another way to do some research is to phone or connect with recruiters on Linkedin to ask questions. They know what people with your experience, especially job seekers just coming out of college, are worth. The next time one reaches out to you, engage in a conversation about pay and responsibilities. Recruiters may be the key to a specific number, but a range will always be helpful.


When you receive an offer, ask them if the offer is negotiable. Never give your acceptance of a job on the spot. Taking the weekend or several days to think about it is entirely normal and acceptable. In some cases, an employer may not be able to meet your minimum salary requirements or offer benefits that would make it worth your while. In this case, you need to decide if the job experience is worth the lesser amount. You also need to think about how this position can open doors for you in the company.

Finally, when accepting an offer, make sure the terms are in writing before making your final decision.

At the end of negotiations, you and the company or organization should feel that the result was a win-win situation. You want to feel good about what you have accepted, but you also want the employer to think that they got the best employee. Salary negotiation is a critical and uncomfortable step for newly graduated college students. Following these tips will allow you to walk into the conversation confidant, prepared, and ready to secure your future.