Salary Negotiation for College Grads

Recent college graduates aren’t making as much as they used to. A new study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) shows that the average starting salary for the class of 2010 is down 1.3%. Now, new grads are being offered, on average, $48,691 a year by employers. Last year at this time, class of 2009 alum were receiving an annual salary of $49,307.

“It’s simply reflects that there’s a decrease in demand,” Mimi Collins, NACE’s Director of Communications, explains. “When times are good, employers may want to hire people who have experience, but can’t find them, so they consider college graduates instead. In times like this, organizations that focus on college recruiting often have fewer openings.”
Fewer job openings may entice recent college graduates to take whatever salary is offered to them, but should those new to the job market rule out negotiating their way to higher pay? The answer, it seems, is not entirely.

“Salary negotiation is par for the course in the professional world,” career counselor Heather Krasna tells MainStreet. “If it’s done right, it can add thousands to not just your starting salary, but salaries you later earn for the rest of your career.”

Salary negotiations may increase your income, but applicants (especially those new to the job hunt) are often reluctant to bring up money during the interview process.

”Most of us were scolded as children when we asked how much a gift cost, how much that neighbor’s new car cost, how much money your dad made … so we’ve learned it’s impolite to talk about money in any situation,” Matt Scheihing, executive recruiter for J. Miles Personnel Services, tells MainStreet. “The fact is it’s impolite to talk about money at the inappropriate time.”

This means you can have your own set of salary requirements. You just need to know how or, more importantly, when to use them. For example, career experts universally agree that it is not a good idea to bring up a list of demands during your first interview. To do so means, yes, you may alienate employers. However, conversely, you risk shortchanging yourself. 

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