How To Negotiate a Good Starting Salary

Whether you're applying for your first job, or moving from one job to another, negotiating your starting salary can be the most stressful part of a job application process. This is because the salary would be a gauge of how your employer sees your value to the company, and it will also be the basis of how much you can potentially earn in the future, considering pay increases and bonuses.

Some companies, especially government offices, have fixed pay grades, and your starting salary will depend on the position you are applying for, and the qualifications you possess. Most private firms have prescribed starting salaries, but you can negotiate with the hiring manager, depending on your qualifications. If your case is the latter, here are a few tips on how to negotiate the best possible starting salary.

  • Do your research. Before you come to the negotiating table, it's good to be armed with information. Therefore, when you get a call for an interview with the hiring manager, try doing some research on the salary range in your specific industry and skill level. If you have previous work experience, then you can use your income as a good indicator of how much you can start with. Otherwise, you can check sites like and to see survey data from different fields in different cities.
  • Wait for an offer first. The salary offer usually comes at the end of a job interview. In some cases, a salary offer meeting is even separate from the interview itself, especially if the final interviewer is different from the hiring or human resources manager. Before you negotiate, wait for the hiring manager to give you their initial offer. Then compare this with the salary range you got from your research. If it's within range, then be confident that you can still negotiate upwards. If you're currently employed, also compare the offer with what you're getting in your existing job.

    The best thing to do after the hiring manager has given an offer is to be silent, and appear as if you're seriously thinking about it. The hiring manager will likely take this as a sign that you are looking for something higher, and increase his offer.

  • Negotiate. This is now the time for you to negotiate for a higher starting salary. You usually have a margin of about 10%, within which you can negotiate. If you are currently working, explain that the cost of giving up your current job for a new one necessitates a higher starting salary. If you're just starting out, you can negotiate a higher amount due to cost of living considerations. You can mention that you have done some research based on the standard salary range in your industry.
  • Don't stop with the offer. Once you and the hiring manager have agreed on a base salary, the negotiation doesn't stop there. It is here where you can ask about other non-monetary compensation, such as leave, allowances, health benefits, and the like.

Don't be afraid to negotiate your salary with a hiring manager. Being able to negotiate well for your starting salary is an indication that you are serious about your job, and that you are knowledgeable enough to perform well in the career you have chosen.


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