Negotiating Your First Salary

Jaideep Patel from the gradmalaysia team shares some simple tips on discussing your pay with a prospective employer.
Jaideep Patel


The short answer: no job offer is perfect. So a little fine-tuning on your end is usually the best way to go about it.  This also means that you shouldn’t accept a job offer on-the-spot. Take the time to understand what it entails and what else is required from you. For instance, if the job requires you to relocate to another town, then think about the rental costs.


At such an early stage of your career, you should focus on proving your worth to the company. So, no matter how tempting it may be, avoid negotiating other employee benefits such as use of company car as well as meal or parking allowances. In most cases, these benefits are company-wide, so the same rules apply to all.


Assuming you have a job offer in-hand and want to accept it, the best time to negotiate your salary would be during the interview stage. You may be asked about your salary requirements during the first interview itself, but it usually takes place after the recruiter has shortlisted you for the second round. Either way, you should be prepared to discuss your salary at any given time, as long as you remember to justify your demands.


Do your research on the salaries offered for jobs similar to the one you are about to accept. There are no excuses these days – there are plenty of job portals and publications that share salary ranges for various jobs. It is up to you to figure out what an acceptable salary range is like, because not having a clue about it reflects badly on yourself.


Don’t discuss your salary demands to everyone. It is a private and confidential matter that deserves to be discussed with discretion and respect. You should only discuss it with the hiring manager, and only when he or she brings it up first. It’s a good idea to allow the employer to bring up the money matters first.