Here’s how to negotiate your first salary, according to a career coach

With millions of new college graduates entering the workforce, some may already have some ideas about what their first job offers might look like. According to a March 2022 Real Estate Witch survey of 1,000 college students, college students expect to earn $103,880 a year after graduation.

Their hopes may be tarnished, especially since many will start their careers with entry-level positions. Starting salaries for the undergraduate class of 2022 are expected to range from $50,681 to $75,900, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

If you’re a recent graduate yourself, no matter the starting offer, it’s important to know that you can always negotiate. In fact, “you know that the person on the other end of the call making the offer is fully expecting a negotiation,” says Octavia Goredema, career coach and author of PREP, PUSH, PIVOT.

This will ensure that your first job offer is as close as possible to what you had in mind.

“Research beforehand”

When it comes to thinking about your desired salary before you even start the interview, “do your research beforehand,” says Goredema.

“There are online resources that aggregate Salary ranges for people in your positions, and those brackets vary by years and level of expertise and experience,” she says. Search for your role title on sites like Payscale,, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and LinkedIn See what employers offer, then target the offer you want.

When setting this range, remember that it should cover a comfortable living (after-tax) income from top to bottom as much as possible, and “realize that no one pays the higher end unless you meet and excel whatever they’re looking for,” says Stacie Haller , a careers expert at

So bring evidence from your internships, work outside of school, or work in school that proves you deserve this higher end of the spectrum.

“Make a list of must-haves”

In addition to your salary, think about what additional benefits would be important to you. Is there some type of health insurance you need to cover certain doctor visits? Do you prefer unlimited PTO? Are you interested in stock options?

“I would make a list of must-haves and must-haves so that at least when you’re looking for a job, you know what you need,” Haller says, adding, “Maybe you can give up a little bit of salary if you have flexible hours.” or if you go into an apprenticeship program.”

Some companies list their perks on their websites, she says. So if you have a specific job in mind, you can take a look at the company’s website to see what they offer. According to ZipRecruiter, the fastest growing work perks include a signing bonus, remote work, pet insurance, and mental health and wellness benefits.

Say, “I’d like to discuss the salary, is it negotiable?”

At the beginning of your interview, some companies may let you know in advance what type of offer they have so you can see if their package meets your needs. Nobody wants to “waste someone else’s time,” says Haller.

If the offer fits within your reach, or if they haven’t spelled out exactly what the job’s parameters are in that regard, wait until you have an offer to start negotiating. “You’re not in a position to negotiate your salary until they fall in love with you,” says Haller.

Once you get it, “start very positively with whatever you’re excited about,” in the role, she says. “But then I’d say, ‘But I’d like to discuss the salary, is it negotiable?'” Tell them what area you’re looking for and explain why, including how your experience makes you want to surpass

They may come back with a salary that’s in your range, or they may say they can’t offer more right now. If they say the latter, you can address some of your other benefit priorities and say, “Can we talk about other parts of the compensation package that might be helpful?”

“There are always compromises”

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