“Can I ask for a different starting salary?” “Will I be able to work remotely?” “How much vacation time will I get?” These are a few common questions a new professional might consider when receiving a job offer. How to ask those questions and others will be covered at the Career Center’s upcoming event Negotiating Your First Job from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. on November 7.

Held in the Student Services Building in room 110P, Redbirds will hear from a panel of human resources specialists who will discuss negotiating for positions, factors that might be discussed during the decision-making process and how to finalize one’s last steps.

“This event will support all students and alumni to enhance their confidence, help them negotiate their salaries, advocate their ideas, and help them to secure professional champions and mentors,” Career Center Senior Assistant Director for Programming and Events Maureen Roach said.

Negotiating Your First Job is aimed to assist undergraduate and graduate students, equipping them with confidence and the skills needed to negotiate their first job offer. Lunch will be provided.

In addition to Negotiating Your First Job, the Career Center offers these tips to help one negotiate a job offer effectively.

Starting salary

When it comes to salary, the negotiation process can seem very intimidating. However, by researching starting salaries of professionals in similar positions, negotiation won’t be so scary. The Career Center can help students and alumni research salaries by using Hire-A-Redbird, an online job vacancy too that provides average hiring salary for many positions.

Know that it is uncommon for an employer to take back a job offer just because a candidate asked for clarity or to change to the compensation plan. The worst thing a recruiter can do is deny the request, and offer something different.

Be aware that a quoted salary may include all compensation, not just include take-home pay. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management defines total compensation as “information on the complete pay package awarded to employees on an annual basis, including both direct and indirect compensation.” Some items included in total compensation may include salary, spending account information, paid leave, insurance, relocation expenses, and even educational assistance programs.

Be sure to ask the employer the value of your total compensation in order to understand the complete value you will receive if you chose to become part of the company. This shows you are knowledgeable, better prepared, and more credible to negotiate if the terms are not what you expect.

Time considerations

Whether it’s paid time off, vacation time, flex time, or remote, time is an important factor to consider when it comes to any job offer. Different positions demand different hours on the job, so it is best to research the average entry-level work hours for a particular occupation.

When it comes to paid time off, it doesn’t hurt to ask how much is allotted. Paid time off is a good benefit because it improves the employee’s quality of life, which helps improve work performance. Working from home or remote is another route to consider when negotiating an offer. Some positions can be completed using a computer, regardless of where the employee is located. Working from home may even improve work performance as well. Also, ask about time spent on work travel. Business trips are common for many positions, and it is good to know in advance how much time you will be expected to travel.

Other benefits

When it comes to salary, money is not the only compensation an employee will receive at their job. There are many additional benefits to consider and discuss while negotiating a job offer such as:

  • Bonuses:  Sometimes employers will offer a “hiring bonus,” a one-time compensation made on day one of the job. This kind of bonus is more common when filling positions that are more difficult to attract the desired candidates. In addition, other bonuses may be offered throughout one’s tenure with the company, so be sure to ask about them.
  • Paid time off: The average starting allotment for most organizations is two weeks of paid time off. Do not underestimate the value of time off, it can improve work performance and quality of life. Also, be sure to ask the employer if vacation time includes sick days. Any additional time could narrow the pay gap if the base pay is on the lower side. Collect your daily pay rate to identify the monetary worth of time off. It could be more valuable than you think.
  • Relocation costs: A new job might require you to pack your bags and move to a new location. Consider researching the costs associated with the move and discuss if the employer will help compensate.
  • Educational assistance: Some organizations are willing to help employees further their education while employed at the company. Professional development can help you become a stronger employee, but can also be costly. Be sure to ask if additional education or professional development is covered.

Career Center guidance

A great way to prepare for negotiating your first job after college is to visit the Career Center. Career advisors are a resource for students and alumni, to help ensure they are truly ready with professional communication skills and realistic expectations.

When it comes to how long you should take with making your decision to accept a job offer or not, the Career Center encourages Redbirds to take a few days to mull over the decision before accepting or rejecting. Meet with trusted professionals, a career advisor, or professor to get input to help you decide. After one to three business days, tell the employer your answer and begin negotiating if you decide to accept the position.

Redbirds can outgrow their fears and achieve their goals by simply meeting with an employer and negotiating an offer. This meeting will show the employer that the candidate has communication skills that make them even more desirable to have on staff. Entering the negotiation as a professional with confidence and realistic expectations is a great way to start the first job out of Illinois State University.

The Career Center assists students with developing, evaluating, and implementing career, education, and employment decisions and supports Illinois State University’s Educate ● Connect ● Elevate strategic plan.