There’s nothing quite like that feeling of getting the first job offer in your professional career.

But wait! Before you immediately reply with a ’Yes! Yes! I would happily accept!’ consider the implications. Sure it’s the first job in your area of expertise and you may not have much leveraging power, but the first salary offer isn’t always the best one, and it could affect more than just your job.

Income increases are compounded as a percentage of your income, so “every raise you get, every bonus you receive, and even the number of stock options you are awarded will be smaller,” said Lee E. Miller and Jessica Miller in a recent Ladders article. To make sure you start career off right, here’s how to successfully negotiate your salary for your first job.

Body Language is Key

During the job interview, you likely gave a range when they asked for your salary expectations. It’s even more likely that when they offered you the position, the number was at the tail end of that range. You have to counter, and the few minutes after a number is thrown out are the most important.

You know how pausing in a conversation when you don’t agree makes the other person uncomfortable? This strategy may work for your salary negotiations as well. When they give you a number, repeat it back to them in a contemplating tone. Pause and ask:“Can I have a day or two to think about it?”

Know Your Industry

Now that you’ve set the stage, you can’t just demand a number without some numbers to back it up. What’s the market like for your position? Is it higher in demand, like technology or online fields? What are the comparable salaries in your location? Salary.com and Glassdoor are your best bets for finding this information.

Don’t forget to calculate the cost of living in your area either. Chances are high that you’ll be moving somewhere new for your first job, so make sure you’re not living in San Francisco with a Gainesville, Fla. budget by checking out Bankrate.com’s cost of living calculator.

Know Your Skillset

This is a tough one to qualify, but incredibly invaluable. Salary negotiating puts a price on your skillset, education, and background, so you have to know how those will fit into the specific company. What do you bring that other candidates don’t? What do you have that the company is currently lacking in? What are some things that you plan to implement when you get hired that will help the company?

They offered you the job because you were the most qualified, so it’s in your best interest to know what made you the most qualified.

Negotiating a salary isn’t just about getting more money; it speaks volumes to your character. It’s showing your employer that you know how much you’re worth and you’re not afraid to speak for something you believe in. If you were selling a car and someone didn’t negotiate with you on the price, you’d assume you priced it too cheaply. Don’t do that for your career.

Updated: 09/02/2017
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Adil Khan
Adil Khan is freelance writer and a Computer Engineer by profession. He started writing articles for CareerThoughts.com in 2016. He writes a opinion column for a local newspaper. He is yet to join Twitter!

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