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Amidst all the happy-dancing and celebration involved in getting your first official job offer, it’s tempting to accept the terms given to you as they are. It turns out that is actually pretty common phenomena – research indicates less than 40% of applicants attempt to negotiate their salary or contract when they’re given a job offer.

Most candidates find themselves anxious to secure a job offer, so when they do finally receive one, they don’t feel like they’re in a position to bargain. Competition in the job market is tough, so the urgency to snap up the first offer makes a lot of sense. What’s more, the process of negotiation can be intimidating to even a seasoned employee, so as someone entering the job market, you may feel ill-equipped to handle one.   

Negotiation can actually be a lot simpler than you realise, and it’s an important way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your job. As you progress within your career, you’re only going to be moving up from your starting salary and benefits, so it’s important to build yourself something solid. Here are our top tips when it comes to negotiating well:  

Begin with your benefits 

Reflecting on your personal priorities in relation to your job can help you gain a lot of clarity surrounding what exactly you want to focus on asking for. When attempting to negotiate your employment contract, it is also always a good idea to start with additional benefits rather than cutting straight to how much you want to be paid.  

If you’re looking to enhance your skills, for instance, ask about employment training schemes or if there’s going to be a separate allowance for courses taken outside your job. On the other hand, you may value the ability to work from anywhere, in which case you may ask about the possibility for flexible hours.  

When discussing your salary, be realistic in your requests 

The most obvious aspect of your employment contract is going to be how much you get paid, so try and do some research around what the average starting salary for someone in your industry and position looks like. What’s more, the average pay raise usually ranges from 1-3%, so before asking for anything unrealistic, think about why it is you want more money – it could be to cover transport costs, for example, and specify this when you’re speaking to your hirers.  

Prepare for some back and forth, and take your time 

Whether your requests are declined or renegotiated with, prepare yourself for all possibilities when going into a negotiation. Remember to stay frank and courteous with your language – this is a business transaction, and you’re getting paid for your work and services, so it’s completely reasonable to try and find some wiggle room in your contract.  

If you’re met with a counter-offer and you’re not entirely convinced, don’t be afraid to ask for some time to mull it over – your prospective employees are not going to be fazed, as long as you take a reasonable time (2-3 days) to do so. Getting to grips with negotiating early on can be useful no matter what the outcome, so don’t be intimidated or overly worried about starting the process – you just might surprise yourself.

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