How would you deal with the common pitfalls you would expect to encounter in negotiating your salary for your first job?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there will be different approaches to answering this question.  I think that a common pitfall is that negotiating salary is no different than any other element in the job.  Somehow, when the issue of money is raised, a common belief is that it is fundamentally different than negotiating any other aspect of work.  I think that avoiding this in terms of being able to make sure that some level of sober judgment is evident will be critical in making sure that pitfalls are avoided.  Part of this will involve outside research about comparable salaries and salary structures.  If the job is within the range of other salaries out there, it might not be realistic to ask for a 25% increase in salary without a real compelling reason.  Once outside research has been done, I think that an effective and workable salary number can be reached.  Another element that might constitute a common pitfall is seeing a salary or compensation package in only monetary terms.  This is especially true with people in their first jobs.  Money is not the only element to a compensation package, and first job hires tend to lose sight of this.  There might be other elements to the compensation that could exist outside of money.  For example, retirement packages or health care benefits might be excellent avenues to pursue other arenas of negotiation.  If the salary is a bit less than other companies, but the health care package is highly encompassing, money is actually saved in other ways.  Consider the whole package in any salary negotiation.  Finally, when negotiating a salary, it's really important to not tip your hand and give away any leverage.  When they give a number, observe it and start the calculations internally and in a professional manner, as opposed to reacting verbally or nonverbally to the number.  A bit of leverage goes to them when this happens.  Given the first job element, this is something that is often forgotten.  I think that these are some negotiating techniques that help to avert the common pitfalls in salary negotiations.


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