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How Much Are You Worth? What Millennials Don’t Know About Negotiating Salary

Topics: Negotiation

By now, you’ve heard that you should negotiate your starting salary before accepting a job offer. Failure to do so can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. Knowing this, however, doesn’t mean that negotiating is easy, or effective. If you’re a younger worker, the challenges are even greater. Less experienced than your older colleagues, you’re also less likely to know how to choose a target number. Recently, PayScale spoke with Tara Wyborny, Recruiting Leader at the G10 Associates Program at staffing company Genesis 10, to find out how Millennials can negotiate the best possible salary at the right job.

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(Photo Credit: Tax Credits/Flickr)

PayScale: Are Millennials more or less likely to negotiate starting salary than older workers?

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Wyborny: Millennials are just as likely to negotiate in my experience. However, older workers tend to have a more concrete understanding of their value in the marketplace. Whereas, Millennials are quick to turn to websites and social networks to gather information about market value based on companies and positions. Unfortunately these websites do not always provide them with the right information, or the full context, which can lead to candidates to make. For example there are a number of websites where employees can self-report their salary, job title, and company. What is hidden in this data is the background of the person reporting the information, such as the number of years of experience the person had prior and their educational background, this can lead Millennials to over or under value themselves in the market. [Ed. note: PayScale’s Salary Survey takes these and other factors into account, to generate a more accurate range.]

PayScale: What’s the biggest mistake Millennials make, when they take a job?

Wyborny: Accepting a job for money. The first few years of your career will set the stage for your future success. Although there is an argument that starting salary also sets the stage for future negotiation, building valuable skills and experiences will be critical in staying competitive in the market for years to come.

PayScale: What else should workers negotiate for, in addition to money?

Wyborny: There are many additional benefits you can ask about negotiation such as additional vacation time, flexible/work from home schedules, educational benefits and/or training opportunities.

PayScale: How can workers determine “the right number”?

Wyborny: There are many factors that impact salary including: Experience through internships or on-campus leadership, market conditions, company pay scales and education, and company benefits. Candidates should get a base line of what they believe their value is in the market, and know if or when to walk away from an offer. Millennials should do their research, and understand the full compensation and benefit package being offered above just a salary when negotiating.

PayScale: Have you ever heard of cases of prospective employees trying to negotiate a higher salary, and having their offer rescinded? If so, how can people avoid that?

Wyborny: This could happen, though in my experience I have not had an offer rescinded over negotiations, I have seen offers rescinded over background checks and references. Some organizations have set pay scales and will not negotiate compensation; generally this is laid out upfront in the interview process. In situations like this, negotiation could lead to the rescinding of an offer. To avoid any fallout from negotiating, Millennials should make sure they approach the discussion professionally and with research or experience as their backing, not emotions.

To learn more about what Millennials can do to prepare themselves for success in the workplace, check out PayScale’s recent report, Gen Y on the Job.

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Do you negotiate your starting salary, when you evaluate a job offer? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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