Is My Entry-level Salary Negotiable?
You’ve got your associate’s degree in healthcare, and you’re ready to break into your new field! You’re prepared for the interview, know what questions to ask, and are ready to wow the manager you hope will be your next boss. But when she makes an offer, can you ask if your salary is negotiable?
In general, especially in a tight economy, it is unlikely that the salary is negotiable for an entry-level job, especially for a new graduate—whatever your degree. An information technology associate’s degree will give you a tremendous amount of knowledge and teach you valuable skills, but that rarely translates into something you can leverage in a salary negotiation with a new employer.
And that’s usually because entry-level jobs are designed for new employees to earn while they learn. An employer is essentially providing an opportunity for you to prove your value, talent, and knowledge, so that you can earn a strong negotiating position when your review comes around, when you get a promotion, or when you move to a new, more advanced job.
However, if you come to the table with relevant experience as well as your degree, that situation changes dramatically. Volunteer, pursue internships—increase your real-world experience and you become more valuable. If you have the kind of background that shows you’ll be able to contribute right off the bat as an employee, that you know makes you stand out of the rest of the graduating class at your Fort Collins college campus, then it is absolutely worth broaching the subject.
But you need to be careful in your approach. It’s important to present a clear case for why you believe you’re worth more than the opening salary. That means doing your homework. Check in with your school’s career center, any contacts you have in your field, and salary database websites to get an accurate idea of what the range of starting salaries is for your position, your area, and the degree and experience you have. The key is knowing the market.
And once you’ve got your rationale, remember to pursue negotiation in a professional, respectful way. Avoid at all costs giving the impression that you believe you’re entitled to a raise—it’s more likely to lose you the offer than gain you extra consideration. Present your argument clearly and calmly; note your specific experience and expertise, ask if it is worthwhile to your new employer, and ask if they are open to negotiation. But try only once—if you continue to push, you run the risk of damaging your reputation, and even risking your offer.
It certainly won’t always work, but when you believe in your skills, experience, and talent, it’s always worth taking a chance and asking.
Sara Nelson is the Social Media Guru for CollegeAmerica, overseeing the college’s profiles on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and more. She is also a student in the Master in Business Administration (MBA) program, and she enjoys spending time with her family, listening to good music, and eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.