Brace Yourself! Prep For The Entry-Level Salary Discussion

Posted by The Editors on August 3, 2011
Brace Yourself! Prep For The Entry-Level Salary Discussion

While at a BBQ this past weekend, I ran into some old high school friends who are all on the verge of securing their first fulltime jobs. It wasn’t long before we started discussing job-related topics, one of which caused universal anxiety. The general consensus was that we’d rather be back in high school serving detention than in front of an employer talking salary. Unfortunately, the salary discussion is one that cannot and should not be avoided.

Whether you’ve gotten the job offer or just want to be prepared, determining the salary you should be making right out of college is a tough predicament. Here are three things to consider before broaching the subject.

       1.  Know your worth

The easiest way to find out what others in your field are making is to visit websites like Glassdoor and Careerbliss to find a fair salary range for an entry-level position. Unfortunately, these sites rarely present the same results, so it’s up to you to determine a number you’re comfortable with. Don’t sell yourself short either. If you’re good at what you do—and have the resume and references to back it up—shoot for the higher end of the entry-level salary range.

       2.  Build a budget

Budgeting was one of the biggest challenges for me, until I learned to just sit down with a calculator and deal with it. The onset of financial responsibility after college can be nerve-wracking, and I found that getting a realistic picture of my financial situation actually helped. After all, knowledge is power!

Life is expensive. Even if you revert back to living at home with your parents, you’re still going to have expenses: student loans, concert tickets, health insurance, gas charges, etc. Try using a website like to get a handle on your expenses and the income you need. Keep in mind that salary isn’t the only factor. Most fulltime job offers come with benefits like health insurance coverage or commuting stipends, which can lead to huge cost savings.

        3.  Be confident

Dogs aren’t the only animals who smell fear. Employers and interviewers can tell when a job candidate is nervous and that knowledge gives them the upper hand. Recruiters and managers we talk to stress the importance of entering a salary discussion believing that you are above average. Once you start thinking you’re as average as the next candidate, you’ve lost the confidence necessary for effective negotiation. 

As my manager suggests, put your “salary hat” on. Sometimes getting into a specific role (master negotiator), if only for a few minutes, can make a huge difference. Hey, Beyoncé turns into her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, every time she goes on stage!

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