Starting Salary: How Much Should You Get?

Here are 2 simple tips to you get the right starting salary.
Jaideep Patel

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding starting salaries for fresh grad jobs. When I speak to students on campuses across Malaysia, or receive résumés from university leavers, I can tell that most – if not all – jobseekers are in the dark about how much they should be earning in their first jobs.

The scenarios are almost always the same, too. Person A is a university student who will be embarking on an internship soon. Person B is a fresh grad looking for his or her first job. Whether you are person A or person B, the rules that apply are the same.

Here are 2 simple tips to you get the right starting salary.

Tip #1: Do your research

Before you even think up a number in your head, you need to do some research first. Starting salaries vary by company, industry, and country. Plus, there are a few other aspects that come into play. So how do you navigate around this?

Simple. You need to do some homework.

When you get called up for an interview, do your research on similar jobs. Then, look at the salary scales for those jobs. Don’t know where to look? Job portals are great for this purpose.JobsCentral Malaysia is an excellent starting point. Compare the salaries offered for similar roles, and you should have an idea of how much you should ask for. Bonus advice: don’t even think about attending an interview until you know how much you should earn.

Tip #2: Be prepared to negotiate

Many fresh grad jobseekers are afraid to bargain with recruiters, for several reasons. One myth is that it is unprofessional (and disrespectful) to negotiate your starting salary and other perks. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Being mentally prepared to talk to your potential employer about your salary shows that you are genuinely interested in the job, and that you have the knowledge needed to justify the salary you demand.

One bit of advice I always share with students is to know the salary range for the job you applied for. For example, if you are applying for the position of Marketing Executive, and know that the monthly salary for that position ranges between RM2,400 to RM3,200, you can demand RM3,200 and then negotiate with the recruiter.

Getting the salary you want is not a matter of luck, but of careful planning and prudent negotiating, so start practising this useful skill today.