Student Involvement & Career Center

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Salary Information


Should I Negotiate My Salary?

You are not expected or obligated to negotiate salary. In fact, you should not negotiate simply for the sake of negotiating. In most cases, employers hiring undergraduates for entry level positions offer salaries that are pre-determined and are not negotiable.

However, there are a few factors that may affect your ability to negotiate your salary as a new college graduate. It's critical that you assess your position when determining whether or not you will negotiate your salary and benefit package.

Considerations:

  • What is the job market like upon your graduation?
  • Is there a shortage of labor? Are there fewer jobs than applicants?
  • How much relevant experience do you have?
  • Have you had an internship that is directly applicable to the position?
  • Have you been tremendously active playing a leadership role in clubs and on-campus organizations?
  • Does the University that you're graduating from carry a strong reputation in the area that you're attempting to gain employment?
  • Is your GPA impressive?
  • Are you their prize candidate?
  • How does the offer that is being made to you compare to similar ones being made to your classmates?
  • Are you fielding highly similar offers from other employers? Are they offering more?

Your negotiating power will increase as your career progresses. As you build your portfolio of skills and accomplishments, you'll have more to offer an organization. In turn, they'll be willing to negotiate your salary depending on their immediate need for your skills and the estimated value of these skills to their company.

A Note About Government & Non-Profit Organizations

Government and nonprofit employers usually have less room to negotiate salaries. Government salaries are based upon education and experience, and publicized on the job announcement. Benefits packages are often very comprehensive and may amount to 20-30% of your salary.

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Discussing Salary Expectations

If at all possible, avoid discussing salary during initial interviews. On the other hand, you want to make sure that you get market value for the work that you will potentially be doing.

There are several options for dealing with this dilemma:

  1. Turn the question around and ask what the hiring range is for the position. This way you won't under- or over-value yourself when the job offer arrives.
  2. Let them know that, while money is important, it's more important for you to learn about the company and the position in order to determine if you are a good fit. After you learn more about the position you'll be better prepared to research the fair market salary.

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How Do I Find Out What The Salary Range Is?

Research, research and research! Generally, salary ranges are not the easiest data to uncover. It's relatively feasible to find nationally reported salary levels for specific industries and functions. However, finding more specific regional salary data can require some creative research.

The following resources can be helpful to you:

  • Talk with your career counselor, who is familiar with employment salary trends.
  • Review current job listings on various job boards, including GatorJOBS, which provide current, comparable salaries.
  • Consult with professional associations, who often conduct salary surveys or have information about local salaries.
  • Check with web sites such as JobStar.org or Salary.com.

SF State Library also has a plethora of resources for career research, including resources for salary and wage information for a variety of occupations and professions.

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What Can I Negotiate Besides Salary?

If the salary that is offered to you is firm, there are other parts of a compensation package that you may be able to negotiate.

Start Date

If possible, schedule a vacation before you start work. It may be many months or an entire year before you'll be able to take vacation time from your new job.

Vacation Time

Many employers are quite generous with vacation these days. As a new employee, however, you are lower on the seniority list, in terms of how much vacation you'll accrue and in terms of choices for vacation dates. If you and your family are planning an extended vacation this year, negotiate the time off before you accept an offer.

Signing Bonus

This is a one-time cash bonus received when you start working.

Early Performance Review or Salary Review

If your employer is unable or unwilling to raise your base salary upon hiring, ask for an early review of your performance. Performance evaluations generally take place once a year. An early evaluation period might take place at the six-month mark. Once you've demonstrated your skill level and what an asset you are to the organization, the employer may adjust your salary level during your six month evaluation.

Relocation Expenses

These are expense incurred for moving and may be reimbursable.

Flextime

Non-standard work hours can help lessen commute time and accommodate other interests.

Performance Bonus

A performance bonus is generally a percentage of your base salary that is received at the end of the year and is based upon your performance or the organization's performance. Since performance bonuses are often determined on an ad hoc basis in light of greater accounting considerations, hiring managers may be more hesitant to negotiate with them.

Professional Development

If you want to stay current or advance in your field, ask your employer for professional dues, conference fees or continued education costs.

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The Exploding Offer

Exploding offers are those with "short fuse" deadlines. Employers may attempt to pressure you into accepting their offer immediately, thereby lessening the opportunity for competing offers. For example, your signing bonus may disappear if you do not sign within 24 hours, and the offer is rescinded if you do not accept with in 48 hours. In a tight market, employers may use these questionable tactics. If you ask for more time, some employers may extend more time, others definitely will not.

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What If I Accept An Offer And Then Change My Mind?

Do not accept an offer before you are ready. If you are being pressured to accept and the employer is firm about needing to know before you're ready, seriously consider listening to your hesitancy and turning the offer down.

Acceptance of an employment offer should be made in good faith and with the sincere intention to honor the commitment. Once you make a commitment to start the job, it would be viewed as unprofessional and unethical to renege on your commitment.

Furthermore, once you accept a job offer you should stop all other interviewing. If you find yourself in an ethical dilemma about having accepted a position and realizing that it wasn't the best decision for you, please discuss this with a career counselor.

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