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Salary negotiations: 9 best practices for fresh graduates

Sam Wong

Team Prosple
We’ve had many fresh graduates come up to us and ask “How do you negotiate a salary offer?”. Fear not, as we’ve listed the best practices for salary negotiations!

We’ve created a useful guide to salary negotiations for fresh graduates—everything you need to know from preparing for the final interview, to negotiating your salary, to accepting the job offer. 

1. Do your research

The best thing you can do before entering any salary negotiation is to be informed

You can search online for ballpark salaries, or even ask colleagues and mentors for advice.

Also, take note of the most in-demand jobs and skills. Even as a fresh graduate, you can negotiate more confidently if the position you are applying for or the skills you possess are in-demand.

2. Don’t use salary ranges

A rookie mistake is giving a salary range rather than an exact number. 

Giving a salary range allows potential employers to pick a price on the lower-end, while still meeting your salary expectations.

Lose the salary ranges, and specify a number for more control over the negotiations.

3. Be the first to mention a number

The first number to be put on the table will be the basis of your salary negotiations. 

You can set the bar for how much your ideal salary is, even as a fresh graduate.

Make the first move so you can gather more information regarding their budget allocation for your job position, and have more control over the salary negotiations.

4. Ask for more than what you want

Have you ever haggled at a flea market? If our local market vendor has taught us anything, the basic rule of thumb for every negotiation is to ask for a price higher than the one you’re content with.

Stating a higher salary gives you and your potential employer more wiggle room to negotiate. 

Best case scenario: you get a higher starting salary than you would’ve initially asked for. Worst case scenario: both of you continue to negotiate, and you’ll eventually land on the price you would’ve been content with anyway.

And this goes without saying, be reasonable. It may not be in your best interest to ask double their salary offer, especially if you know that it’s too much.

5. Mention competing job offer

A great way to leverage your salary negotiation is to mention that your potential employer has some competition. Your potential employer may strongly consider buffing up their job offer in the hopes you sign with them.

Of course, only do this if there is an actual competing job offer from another company. You don’t want to get caught in a lie.

6. Don’t mention personal details

Unless asked, don’t mention any personal details that potential employers wouldn’t be concerned with during your salary negotiations.

Don’t mention if you’re trying to make ends meet or if your rent has gone up. Everyone has their struggles, and your recruiter could be going through something similar.

Instead, focus on your achievements and skill sets—things you can contribute to your potential employer.

7. Don’t be afraid to counter

A common mistake—especially among fresh graduates—is settling for the first salary offer. 

While there is merit in accepting a reasonable job offer, have the courage and integrity to acknowledge if your prior experience and skills are worth more.

If you have a strong position to counter a salary offer, do so. The worst thing that could happen is that they give a firm no. At least you still have a job offer, and you tried your hand at negotiations. 

8. Don’t accept a job offer right away

It’s exciting to receive a great job offer, especially the very first one. More often than not, fresh graduates accept job offers right off the bat, without giving them much thought.

Even if you are given the perfect job offer with your ideal salary, inform your recruiter that you want some time to consider it.

Accepting a job offer is a big career decision that requires your discernment and careful consideration. You might change your mind, be given a countering job offer from another company, or want to negotiate for a higher salary.

Patience is a virtue, and it applies to this situation, too.

9. Be kind but firm 

Salary negotiations can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be unpleasant.

Keeping a positive tone while keeping a determined attitude during salary negotiations can help drive the conversation. 

US News columnist Robin Madell gives a great sample for your next salary negotiation script, “I’m excited about your job offer, and knowing that I'll bring a lot of value to the table based on my experience that we discussed during the interviews, I'm wondering if we can explore a slightly higher starting salary.” 


Salary negotiations are nerve-wracking. Most recruiters don’t love negotiating either. If your potential employer puts their foot down and says, “This is my final offer, I’m sorry”, then at least you gave it your best shot.

Salary negotiations are great ways to see how much an employer sees your value and wants you on their team. 

Whether you’re a fresh graduate on your first job hunt or you're a young professional looking for a career change, don’t be afraid to fight for your worth and negotiate.

Head on to Prosple to find eager employers wanting to hire you!