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Amounts will be mentioned to give a better understading of the situation.

After 4 months in of my 6-month long internship. My boss said they want me to stay with them.
I will be graduating some time in 2013, so basically they're hiring a student.

I have some general and some specific questions regarding the talk about my salary as I've never been there before.

During my first interview 4 months back, my boss asked me to give him a range I would be satisfied with. I said between 500€ - 800€. He came back with an offer of 550€.
In the meantime, I had another offer from another company for 1.000€ which is well above average for internships.
I actually preferred the former company so I told them I had a much better offer but I was willing to turn it down and go to them if they offered me the same. And so they did. My boss called back a day later with the same offer and I decided to go to them. The time for negotiations is approaching and I have a feeling I will be offered something in the range of 1.900€ - 2.300€ netto.

While generally this is a very satisfying salary for an entry-level professional, I know I could get about 3.500€ netto or maybe a little more from a certain other company. However I really like it here and am willing to stay for less, but there's a certain limit to what I'm willing to sacrifice. I thought about it and decided I want at least 2.500€ netto. How do I let my boss know my exact problem - also without making him think that this is a trick to get more money from him, since mentioning another company with a much better pay has already happened.

I really really like it here and would be sad to have to go. But I wouldn't give up extra 1.500€ in case they offer me 2.000€ or so. I know what I want, maybe they're just not willing to offer this much.

Any helpful tips, insight?

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You shouldn't concern yourself too much over salary in an entry level position. It is more important that you choose an entry level position that will allow you the most opportunity to learn and grow as a professional in your career. Building your resume with impressive skills and experiences early will pay dividends later in life. –  maple_shaft Nov 26 '12 at 18:33
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@maple_shaft that is much more true if you are comfortable with moving between companies more frequently. If you want to stay in a single company for quite some time starting salary can be quite important –  enderland Nov 26 '12 at 19:41
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2 Answers 2

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The amount of your compensation should be a high priority, but it shouldn't be the first priority when deciding where you wish to work. I've worked in companies where I was well above the average for someone in my field, but I was miserable because of the lack of direction from management and the haphazard decision-making. I've been in companies where I've made far less, but have been much happier.

In any case, the most important thing is understanding what the company expects for that money and whether that salary can be sustained by them for the long term. You don't want to be put in a situation where you have to take a pay cut (or worse) because they couldn't meet their forecasts. On the other hand, the salary you make today will contribute directly to your lifelong earning potential, so starting out higher may ensure that you stay on the high side of your salary range, as long as you're in an industry with long-term growth potential.

Since you "really really" like it there, what are your chances for advancement? A promotion should cover any short-term salary shortfalls you may be experiencing, and it will put you in a different category when the time comes to find other challenges. I guess what I'm trying to say is: You don't have to chase the money...it's there. What's harder to find is a job where you actually enjoy going to work. If you're happy, it will show and they will show their appreciation, in one way or another.

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Its worth finding out if the company operates a system of pay bands associated with particular positions, and how those bands currently sit.

Several of my employers have had such a "benchmark" or "standard" that is applied across all departments - the net result is that an inflated start salary will result in lower pay rises over time as the variations amongst an "intake" are smoothed out.

A second consideration is the investment the company will make in your training over those critical first few years. A company that offers a lower pay grade, but has (for example) a professional training agreement that ensures you get 5-10 days hard and soft skills training over your initial period will serve you much better in most careers over time.

Finally, it is worth looking at how vacation days operate, and how quickly you can get above the base level of vacation offered by the company. If you come to transfer companies at a later stage, the vacation time you get can be a good negotiation point for those "second round" discussions.

In companies with "pay bands" taking a pay cut to preserve your vacation days can mean your salary looks anomalously low come "pay review" time...

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