13 December 2022

Effective Graduate Salary Negotiation: Dos and Don’ts

Salary negotiation

Congratulations, you’ve just been offered your first graduate job! But if you’re unhappy with the offer, you may be wondering how to negotiate your salary.

Your salary offer may not be what you were hoping for. But don’t worry, it’s very common for employers to offer lower salaries to entry-level applicants.

According to a recent study, 62% of recent graduates didn’t negotiate their salary. The shocking part? 84% percent of employers said they had room to bump up their original offer.

We get it, salary negotiations seem daunting. But don’t sweat it – Timberseed’s team of recruitment specialists are here to help.

We’ve put together some dos, don’t and tried-and-tested tips on how to negotiate your salary.

So, when and how should you negotiate salary as a graduate?

When you’re beginning to apply for graduate jobs, it can be hard to know when to negotiate your salary and what to ask for. Should you negotiate? What if they don’t offer you an opportunity to negotiate? These are all valid questions, and we’re here to help!

It’s a common misconception that you’re obligated to accept a lower salary just because you have less experience. The truth is that your qualifications, knowledge, and passion can bring more value to a company than you might think.

It’s important to remember that your potential employers are actively seeking value for money. In other words, they want to know what your worth is and whether or not it’s worth paying for. If you can clearly demonstrate what your value is, you may get a successful negotiation!

You want to get the best offer possible, but you also don’t want to rock the boat too much (for example, by focussing too much on the payslip than the role itself and your skills).

Negotiating is a skill that you can develop with practice – and it’s one that will serve you well throughout your career.

So, when (if at all) is the right time to ask for increased pay?

Before you’ve accepted the job offer. 

When you’re interviewing for a new job, it can be tempting to get carried away with excitement and accept the first offer. After all, it’s your dream job, right?

However, rather than immediately accept, it’s important to remember that this is the time where your contract is its most flexible – before signing the dotted line. And, on the verge of getting this new job, your candidacy has never been more attractive (providing your salary expectations aren’t wildly unrealistic, of course!).

One of the best ways to make sure you get the most out of this new job then is by negotiating salary at this stage.

DO: Extensive research into the career salary range in your area

First, it helps to know what your skills are worth in the marketplace. You can find this information by doing extensive research into the career salary range, including talking with friends who have similar jobs and asking the hiring manager directly about the position’s salary range.

Remain mindful that some figures surrounding salaries can be skewed, so don’t focus too heavily on what you read online. Most importantly, be realistic about your skill level and experience.

Once you have this information at hand, you can approach your negotiation armed with facts. Your goal should be to come up with an offer that is fair for both parties.

DON’T: Go in blind!

Take time before your interview to research the typical salary for jobs similar to the one you want. Not only will this help you come off as more prepared and confident during your interview, but it’ll also give you an idea of what to ask for at the end of it.

No matter the salary you request, you should be prepared to justify the sum to avoid looking unprofessional and underprepared.

DO: Be honest and clear with your salary expectations at the interview stage

Looking for a graduate role that meets your needs is a tough job (no pun intended). Because you’re fresh out of university, it can be difficult to know what to ask for in terms of salary.

Outside of the typical part-time or temporary gigs that many pick up in their late teens, graduate roles tend to be the first real job that actually aligns with a chosen career. At this stage then, it’s likely that you don’t have much experience and may not know what kind of salary range is realistic for the position you want.

The best way to ensure that you get paid what you deserve is to speak to a recruitment specialist who can help you get a realistic breakdown of the market rate for your role, and then pitch at the top end of a salary band.

DON’T: Focus solely on the paycheck. Factor in additional perks and benefits

In the world of salary negotiation, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. You want to make sure you get paid what you’re worth, but you also want to consider the other non-monetary factors that will make or break the deal.

If you’re just looking at salary, you might miss out on opportunities for other perks and benefits. For example, if a company is willing to pay for your travel expenses, offers bonus pay, or maybe even a 4-day work week… it might be worth more than the extra pennies.

There’s also nothing wrong with trying to compromise on additional benefits, too!

DO: Look at the bigger picture – Plan for the future

As a graduate, it can be tempting to focus only on the number of pounds that will be in your bank account when you start working.

That’s not a bad thing – but It’s equally as important to think about what you need and want out of a new job and how your future looks.

So, don’t forget to look at the bigger picture when it comes to salary negotiation. Ask yourself: Will this job help me grow? Am I excited about the long-term vision? Is there room for advancement? It may be worth settling for slightly less if there are more exciting things in the pipeline at a specific company.

DON’T: Accept an offer on the spot

When you’re in the middle of negotiating your salary, it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement and rush of the moment. But don’t let that happen!

The truth is that you’re probably not going to get the best offer on the first try – so don’t feel obliged to accept. Take your time, weigh up your options and ask as many questions as you need. Most employers expect candidates to take their time with job offers.

Once you’ve decided to accept or decline, send your formal answer via email.


When should I negotiate my salary for a graduate job?

Negotiating your salary for a graduate job should ideally be done before accepting the job offer. This is when your contract is most flexible, and it’s crucial to seize the opportunity to discuss compensation before signing any agreements.

How can I determine a realistic salary expectation for a graduate role?

Researching the typical salary range for similar roles in your area is essential for setting realistic salary expectations. Seek advice from recruitment specialists or online resources to understand market rates. Be honest about your qualifications and experience when discussing salary expectations.


Should I focus only on the paycheck during salary negotiation for a graduate job?

While salary is an important factor, it’s not the only consideration. Factor in additional perks and benefits offered by the employer, such as travel expenses, bonus pay, or flexible work arrangements. Consider the long-term opportunities for growth and advancement within the company as well.

Are you a new grad on the hunt for a job? You’re in the right place. 

It’s a tough job market out there.

So many jobs, so many qualified graduates. And if you want to stand out from the crowd, it’s time to get some help.

Timberseed makes it our mission to find the perfect fit for you – and with our team of experts guiding you through the interview process and helping you to make a great impression on potential employers, we’re able to do just that!

Ultimately, our goal is to help highly skilled people just like you identify and secure the job they deserve.

Let’s get to work. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you by phone on 020 3030 5045 or via email at info@timberseed.com.