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I've read quite a few posts about how to cleverly negotiate salary and compensation package after securing an offer. However, as an entry-level job seeker (master degree plus 1.5-year experience), how much bargaining power do I really have? FYI, the employer I'd like to negotiate with is way more well known and competitive compared to my previous employers and the position is also sponsored, so I definitely don't want to risk losing the opportunity and understand they have much more bargaining chips.


That said, I shouldn't behave like taking whatever is offered on the table, right? My plan is to ask them how the job is budgeted (tactic 1) and if there's any room for a 5% salary raise, let's say, for whatever they offer (tactic 2). And if they told me the salary is non-negotiable (possibly fixed for entry-level positions as I heard), I can ask for signing bonus immediately (tactic 3). But how much and what should I bargain for in my situation? And is it okay to touch on signing bonus, not to mention many other perks such as medical plan, vacation, relocation package, etc.?

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    Don't be afraid to ask for what you're worth. Unless they're very petty, they won't rescind the original offer because you dared to ask for more. – AffableAmbler Aug 26 at 2:31
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I've been in your position before. Even though it all depends on the company itself, I'll try to answer from my experience.

I've been taught that it's all about taking risks. i.e. do you really need this job?

In my case, I've persuaded myself to not take the original salary if they refuse. Hence, I took a strong stance on the salary range that I want to make. However, I did not take a strong stance in the other perks (bonuses, flex time, etc).

I got the salary range that I want but I needed to take another round of interview (this time I'm interviewing as a developer instead of a graduate developer).

But in either case. I do not think that asking is dangerous (again, depends on the company and your comfort on taking risks).

You never know if you never ask :)

But remember, this is my experience. In the end, you're the one who's making the difficult call.

as for your question:

But how much and what should I bargain for in my situation?

You need to research the market price. Assess your own skills and compare it to the market.

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    In your opinion does this differ for graduates or is the process the same? I think the original question is very well posed because graduates/juniors often feel they are in a weak negotiating position. – P. Hopkinson Aug 26 at 13:36
  • I think it depends on the skill and experience. I am a graduate but I have some years of part-time experience in the field. When they give me a graduate salary, it's a bit higher than the one I was making. So, I negotiated. In my case, they want to interview me again and I got in with my desired salary range. – kkesley Aug 26 at 22:26
  • But this is my first full-time job as well.. So I don't have that much experience. Please don't take my word as a fact. – kkesley Aug 26 at 22:27
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It all depends on 1) the culture, 2) your skills (how marketable they are) and 3) the industry.

First of all, let's clarify one thing. It might be a question of wording, but with a master degree plus 1.5-year experience you shouldn't be applying for entry positions. An entry position is something for total beginners, who can't contribute much. If you worked for 1.5 years in the same/ related role, you should be able to contribute without much training in your next job. So no, you aren't in an entry position.

In some industries you are normally expected to negotiate to show your "thirst for more". Unless it's not like that in your culture.

You should consider the three factors and then decide. There's really no one good answer. But don't be too shy: companies shouldn't reject you just because you tried to negotiate unless what you ask for is totally unrealistic and makes them question your judgement.

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Why not ask for a salary package review after 6 months and show them how good you are in that time...

That way you, and they, have real evidence of your capabilities. This has the advantage that it is direct evidence that they have so they know all the parameters...

  • I've seen companies promising reviewing salary in six months, and not making good on their promise (even in writing), either because they never planned to or because things changed in the meantime. The time your negotiating power is the strongest is when you're getting hired. – MlleMei Aug 28 at 14:55
  • @MlleMei seen employees make promises about how good they are and not follow up with performance either... – Solar Mike Aug 29 at 10:34
  • True. Doesn't mean a company gets to underpay it's employees. Probationary periods also exist for that reason. As is firing them. Underpaying your employees isn't the answer to that problem. – MlleMei Aug 29 at 11:34
  • @MlleMei A friend I worked with had the best technique. Every year he found a job with a competitor with a higher salary and told the manager he was about to leave... Instant pay rise as he was one of the best in the shop... As I said being able to prove the skills or worth to the company is key... Note it's is incorrect, see "underpay it's employees" in your comment. Should be "its"... – Solar Mike Aug 29 at 12:03
  • And other companies would have said "OK, go" or quietly search for a replacement, because no one is irreplaceable, even high performers. Its great it worked out for him, but in my experience those kind of techniques have a higher chance to bite you in the ass then work out. Same for your suggestion to work underpaid in the hopes of getting a fair salary in six months. I also don't see what one has to do with the other... – MlleMei Aug 29 at 12:41

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