7 Salary Negotiation Tips for Millennials

By Alicia Geigel on June 20, 2019

It is not new information that millennials are struggling to keep their heads above water in the current job market. Factor in thousands of dollars of student loan debt, a dwindling economy (post-Great Recession) and a surplus people of college degrees, the current job market for millennials is competitive, narrow, and overall harsh.

Kristin Bialik and Richard Fry of the Pew Research Center write, “While the Great Recession affected Americans broadly, it created a particularly challenging job market for Millennials entering the workforce. The unemployment rate was especially high for America’s youngest adults in the years just after the recession, a reality that would impact Millennials’ future earnings and wealth.”

With a 213 percent increase in tuition for 4-year public colleges since the late 1980s, millennials have to grapple with staggering amounts of accumulating student loan debt all while trying to make it in the competitive job market. Part of the difficulty of entering the current job market is evaluating and negotiating appropriate salaries. No one particularly feels comfortable demanding a specific price for their work, experience, and qualifications when it comes to a job, however, given several factors in the financial and job sphere, it’s necessary in this day and age.

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When it comes to salaries, millennials are more likely than previous generations to share the details of their salary among family, friends and even co-workers. In a survey conducted by the Cashlorette, “63% of millennials ages 18-36 have shared their salaries with an immediate family member, 48% have shared with friends and 30% have shared with co-workers. Only 41% of baby boomers ages 53-71 have shared their salaries with an immediate family member, 21% have shared with a friend, and 8% have shared with a coworker.”

This generational difference in cracking open salary secrecy can perhaps be attributed to the need to be transparent and open amongst millennials, as those traits can be linked to building better relationships. In her article from Forbes, author Jessica Lutz writes of the problems of salary secrecy, stating, “When salaries are kept secret, employers have access to way more information about compensation than new hires, which gives them the upper hand in negotiating salary. They know what everyone at the company makes, as well as how much they can afford to pay based on skill set, level of experience, and qualifications. Meanwhile, all new hires have is likely whatever they could find on Glassdoor.com and the salary range for the position. Salary secrecy sets employees up to fail.”

As millennials try to navigate salary secrecy in the job market, it’s also important to know exactly how to negotiate a salary whether in a current job or starting a new one. Negotiating a salary can be kind of scary and a bit uncomfortable, but it is worth it for not only for your physical paycheck but also for building your confidence in the long run! Are you a millennial currently employed or about to be employed? Trying to figure out how to go about negotiating an appropriate salary with your employer? Feeling uncomfortable demanding a specific pay and selling yourself short? Check out this comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to effectively negotiate a salary below!

Why is Salary Negotiation Important?

Outside of the physical numbers on your paycheck, negotiating your salary is important because it shows employers that you are not only serious about the job, but you also have the confidence to maturely set the bar for your qualifications, experience, and work. This tells your employer that you are valuable, dedicated, and ready to establish your position at the company for the long run. There are a few financial benefits as well, as Madeline Burry writes, “Negotiating those early offers reaps long-term financial rewards over the course of your career. Percentage-based bonuses and raises will be bigger, for instance, if your starting salary is that much higher. Plus, salaries tend to follow you from job to job.”

Infographic by Alicia Geigel

7 Salary Negotiation Tips 

With an understanding of why salary negotiation is so important, let’s jump into the detailed list of tips that will help you with your employer.

1. Research: Perhaps one of the more obvious tips, but nonetheless necessary to point out, is to do your research beforehand. By doing research, you should see the average salary amount of your position, the salary amount for an entry-level position, the salary amount based on specific qualifications (i.e. a college degree), and the various salary amounts offered at the company you either are currently with or are entering into.

Doing research on salaries helps to give you a better foundation when it comes to negotiating, and shows that you have adequate information on what you should/should not accept. To help with research, Madeline Burry suggests that, “The internet, however, and anonymous surveys, can help you research industry salaries, or even salary ranges at a specific company. Try sites like FairyGodBoss, Payscale, and Glassdoor to learn more about industries and companies. And use free salary calculators to help know what offers to expect.”

2. Evaluate the Package: Before diving into requesting a higher salary, it’s important to look closely at any kind of benefits package offered with your salary so you can better evaluate your costs of living.

If your employer offers a decent health insurance package, with dental and eye care, a 401K, paid vacation time, etc. you obviously aren’t going to want to shoot for a salary that is too high, since you won’t have the expenses of investing in healthcare or a retirement plan. So, prior to jumping the gun and putting a high salary on the table of negotiation, look into seeing what kind of potential benefits you can get with your job as well.

3. Don’t Aim Too High: Millennials are typically either on one side of the spectrum or the other when it comes to negotiating a salary. Some say that millennials sometimes come to the table with a sense of entitlement and oversell themselves and their qualifications, wanting a large salary that doesn’t match with the ideas of the company. On the other end, some millennials are shy and apprehensive to dictate their salary out of fear that they aren’t qualified enough and don’t have the right requirements to have a decent salary.

Wherever you may fall, it’s important to not aim too high or too low when you’re negotiating a salary with your employer. Aiming low, according to Jen Hubley Luckwaldt of PayScale, can be detrimental for millennials as well. She writes, “If they don’t ask for a raise, Millennials might cost themselves big over time. Experts estimate that not negotiating salary early on can cost as much as $500,000 to $1 million over the course of a lifetime. Millennials, who may feel lucky just to have a job in a rocky economy, need to understand that salary negotiation is key to their career success, and that most recruiters and employers expect it.” Use your research, along with your experience and qualifications to set a good number and let the employer do the rest.

4. Have a Solid Argument: You don’t need me to tell you that you need a solid argument before going into the workplace and negotiating a salary, however, it’s definitely important. Just like you prepare for an interview by researching the company, practicing answers, and reviewing your resume- it’s necessary to prepare your argument before negotiating a salary with your employer.

Review your experience, your qualifications, your accolades and education, and combine those together to justify getting the desired salary you’re proposing. Along with being confident, having a strong and solid argument shows employers you are serious and stern about what you want and most importantly, what you deserve. Additionally, being prepared and having an argument helps your employer negotiate better with you.

5. Be Patient: Though it helps to be matter-of-fact and forthcoming, sometimes in the world of salary negotiation, it’s better to be patient than to jump the gun right away. If you are interviewing with a company, you don’t want your first question to be about salary. It’s more important to establish what you can contribute to the company and what you like about potentially working with the company, rather than immediately demanding a specific salary.

In a blog post by Uplarn, they note that “If you are at a job interview or a formal evaluation at your current job, try to avoid the topic of salary until near the end of the session. Bringing up the issue of salary too early will often lead to ending the conversation before you can achieve your goal.” It’s important to be confident, but not full of yourself or cocky, but that will immediately turn off the employer and send you searching for another job.

6. Be confident: One of the qualities employers are constantly seeking in employees is confidence. If you have confidence in yourself, then you have confidence in your ability to do your job and perform tasks for the company. Your confidence is attractive to your employer not only because it shows you can do your job and do it well, but its also because it shows you have longevity and can last with the company. Confidence plays a large role in negotiating a salary because you have to be aware of your strengths and what you deserve.

Anna Johansson of Forbes writes about the importance of confidence, stating that millennial pessimism about the economy can play a large part in why millennials suffer during negotiating a salary. She writes, “This pessimism, combined with the knowledge that job opportunities are rare, could lead to weaker negotiation strategies being employed when job opportunities do present themselves. Obviously, the strength of your negotiating abilities determines much about your starting salary.” The point is, be confident and know your worth!

7. Compromise: Being a millennial in this current job market can often be discouraging and feel like you’re never going to succeed or accomplish your dreams. If you’re currently trying to negotiate at your job, remember that it’s never wrong to compromise every once in a while. After negotiating, you may not get the ideal salary you were aiming for, but don’t let that discourage you! The longer you stay with a company, the greater chance you have at negotiating a salary again or requesting a pay raise.

Compromising may seem like you’re losing or giving up, however, it only shows your dedication and willingness to adapt to your job. Uplarn further writes, “Many millennial workers fear that asking for an increase will lead to a negative relationship with their employers, but the opposite is true. Many employers want to see strong workers that can learn to compromise and negotiate, not just with salaries, but with other aspects of the job, too.”

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In an age where millennials and graduating college students are overwhelmed with increasing student debt, rising rent and housing prices, and a growing yet largely competitive job market, the search for the perfect, well-paying job can be a tad difficult. Even more difficult is the process of negotiating a salary with your potential or current employer. While it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, it not only shows your employer that you are confident, strong and dedicated, but it also pays off for you in the long run.

By following these tips and making sure you do your research, evaluate your package, be patient and confident, compromise a little and have a strong argument, you can effectively negotiate a salary with your employer, no problem. Always remember that no matter what, there is always time to grow and opportunities to seize the longer you are with a company. It may be easy to get overwhelmed by the process, but remaining diligent throughout and constantly reevaluating what you are worth and what you deserve, will make your life so much smoother. Continue to put yourself out there and the rest will come easily. As always, good luck!

By Alicia Geigel

Uloop Writer
Temple alum | columnist at Uloop News | writer at Top5Must & KnowPhilly | photographer | food blogger

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