Landing your first job out of college is a significant accomplishment worth celebrating, but many graduates who do so immediately face another challenge — What kind of salary to ask for.
Associate Professor of Broadcast Journalism Stewart Oleson spent over a decade as an accomplished trial lawyer before transitioning to a decorated broadcasting career. Oleson has advised many students and recent graduates in negotiating their first broadcasting contracts, providing tips for launching their careers in the best manner possible. Here are three of his tips for negotiating salary.
1. Do your research
As you pursue jobs in your desired industry, research what salary rates and benefits are common for entry-level positions in that industry. This can be done before securing a job offer. Some job search sites like Indeed and Glassdoor have salary research tools built into their platforms. Some websites are solely devoted to salari\y information such as Salary.com and Payscale. Oleson wants students to remember the web can be a powerful tool in these situations.
“You can find out on the web if there’s a company range for this type of job and see what different companies pay,” said Oleson.
2. Be confident and professional
Negotiating salary between you and your new employer can often resemble a job interview. Thus, many of the same tips for acing that interview can apply to this situation as well. Be ready for more questions about your skills and qualifications and prepare to illustrate ways in which you bring value to your new workplace. Oleson says it is important to avoid using superlatives, like saying you are the “best” at a certain skill.
“Are you serious about the job? Because they are,” Oleson said. “Put your best foot forward but don’t oversell yourself. Tell them this is what you want to do for your career.”
In other words, be confident, but stay humble.
3. Go beyond the money
Your first full-time job in your desired career can set the course for the rest of your professional life. Since it is an entry level job, you may not have much, or any, wiggle room when it comes to negotiating salary, but you can still advocate for a better deal. Investigate what kind of benefits the company offers to employees, such as health care and a 401(k) retirement fund. Jobs in certain industries have additional perks as well. In Oleson’s world of broadcast television, for instance, there can be bonuses allocated for new employees to cover moving expenses, hair and clothing costs and gym memberships. When researching how companies in your industry generally treat entry-level employees in your position, don’t forget to look beyond salary.
Lastly, if you are entering into a salary negotiation, Oleson advises you should remember why you are in that position in the first place. Remember, your unique skills and talents are the reason you were hired!
For more career resources, check out the Career Toolkit on the Career Center’s website.
Austin Green (‘20) graduated with a degree in journalism.