Close this search box.
Brunette woman looking outside window while working at her desk at home

How to Negotiate Your First Salary: 10 Steps for Success

You’ve finally landed the marketing job of your dreams. Congratulations! We know how much time, dedication, and work it took to get here. 

The only problem? You don’t know how to negotiate your salary. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many people find it difficult to negotiate their salary, even after years of experience! 

It may be tempting to take the first offer you receive, but keep in mind it’s rare that a company will give you an offer that’s the most they can pay you, especially when you’re an entry-level hire. Layer in the gender pay gap, and you could be seriously missing out on the salary you deserve. 

Understanding how to negotiate and asking for what you deserve is critical in ensuring that you don’t start your career underpaid, which means you’ll have an accurate salary baseline in the future, too. Let’s get you set up to negotiate like a pro!

What to expect during salary negotiations

The salary negotiation process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. After your interview(s), the hiring manager will usually give you an initial offer and request feedback from you on their proposal. Don’t feel pressured to say yes (or no) right away. Thank the hiring manager for the opportunity and ask for a set amount of time to review. This is when your negotiation skills come in.

Negotiation skills are all about listening and asking the right questions—of yourself and others. When negotiating your salary, it’s important to show that you have researched the market value of similar positions in your industry. This will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you are serious about the position and give you a better idea of what salary range to aim for. But this is just one part of the process. Read on for our top ten tips to ensure you get paid fairly. 

10 tips for negotiating like a pro

Know your worth

Before you even start applying for jobs, understand what the typical salary range is for the type of position you’re applying for. You can use online resources such as Glassdoor or PayScale to get an idea of what other people in similar roles are earning in your area. This will help you determine what salary you should be aiming for and will help you feel more confident when negotiating.

You could also consider informational interviews with people who work in your field. Aside from learning what the day-to-day tasks would be in your chosen field, you’ll also be able to ask about typical salaries the person you’re interviewing has experienced.

Make a list of your accomplishments

Before salary discussions, it’s important to make a list of your accomplishments and skills. This can include things like awards or certifications that you’ve received, as well as your past experience in the industry. Having concrete examples of your achievements and successes will help to demonstrate your value to the company, which can give you negotiating power and increase the likelihood that they’ll offer you a higher salary. They’ll also remind you of how much you’ve accomplished, which can provide a much-needed boost of confidence throughout the negotiation. 

What if this is your first corporate job? Even if you don’t have much experience, your accomplishments may still be considered valuable. For example, maybe you were able to increase sales or streamline a process at your campus job or you graduated with honors. These are great examples of how you can make an impact at your new company and can help earn you more money in the long run. 

Research the role and company before the interview

Before going into your job interview, take some time to do research on both the position itself as well as the company. Not only will this give you confidence while interviewing, but it can also help you determine what salary you would like to ask for based on their typical compensation range and culture. 

If possible, talk with current employees who work in similar roles and try to get their insights on what the company typically offers new hires. Also, take a look at their website and job listing to see if they list out any benefits or perks – this can give you an idea of whether or not the company values its employees and may be willing to offer a higher salary.

Never accept the first offer

When it comes time for salary negotiations, never accept the first offer that’s given to you. Even if you’re beyond eager to start your new job, keep in mind that companies expect candidates will negotiate and will generally counteroffer with a number that’s closer to market value. 

Instead of immediately accepting the starting offer, try sending them a counteroffer after doing your own research on typical salaries for your position and location. If you’re feeling nervous about negotiating, remember that it’s normal to negotiate salary and can help ensure that you get fair pay for the work that you’ll be doing. This can also build a sense of mutual respect with your future employer. 

Evaluate the whole package

Your offer will include more than just your salary. Typically you’ll also be offered benefits like healthcare, retirement savings, paid time off, and more. While it’s important to make sure that you’re getting a fair salary for your work, don’t forget to also think about the other perks and how they might impact your decision.

For example, if the company offers a flexible schedule but isn’t willing to give you much of a salary increase, consider whether it would be worth working at this company instead of taking another offer that may come with a higher salary. Be sure to carefully evaluate all aspects of the job offer so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s the right fit- for you.

Define your salary range

Aside from the research you’ve done on what the average pay is for the role you’re interviewing for, you should also define a salary range that you feel comfortable with. You know how much money you would love to be making, but what about what you really need to be making? Keep in mind this is not the bare minimum you need to get paid. Toss that number out the window and focus on what you need to be making that will make you feel comfortable, support your lifestyle, and allow you to build savings.

Come up with a range of what you’d like to earn. This number should be based on both the research you’ve done as well as how much money you’ll need for living expenses, debt repayment, and financial goals. Then, come up with an ideal salary that is slightly higher than your minimum – this can give you some more bargaining power when negotiating and help ensure that you’re getting paid fairly for your skills and experience.

Practice negotiating ahead of time

If this is your first time going through the salary negotiation process, it’s normal to feel nervous or even intimidated. By practicing ahead of time, you can gain valuable experience and feel more confident going into the negotiation.

Start by practicing with friends or family members who have gone through similar experiences. They can give you feedback on your negotiating skills as well as offer their own advice on how to make a strong case for increasing your salary. Then, try role-playing with a career counselor or even a professional negotiator – seeing what works and what doesn’t in real-time can help you learn some essential negotiating strategies that will come in handy later on.

Keep emotions out of the negotiation process

Trying to land your first marketing job is stressful. But try to keep your emotions out of your salary negotiations. Rather than letting your frustration or desperation get the best of you, take a deep breath and focus on being professional. Learning how to keep a clear head in the beginning of your career will help later on.  

Your goal is to earn fair compensation for the work that you’ll be doing, and approaching the negotiation process with a cool head will always help you get better results. Remember that salary negotiations aren’t personal – they’re just business as usual, so don’t let stress or nerves get in the way of getting what you deserve.

Anticipate their objections and have counter-offers ready

Finally, when negotiating your first salary, it’s important to be prepared for any objections that the company may have. For example, they might say that you aren’t experienced enough yet or that there isn’t enough money in the budget to offer you a higher starting salary. These aren’t personal. They are negotiating tactics. 

In these cases, be ready with counter-offers of your own. You could point out how much value you would bring to the role and why it’s worth investing in you, or explain why another company is offering more money and how this opportunity will allow you to grow professionally. Whatever their objection is, be sure to understand their position and then come up with a response that highlights your skills and makes it clear that you’re deserving of a higher pay grade.

Stay positive + cultivate self-worth

It sounds corny, but it really does make a difference! 4 out of 5 young professionals who negotiate their salary during the hiring process are successful in getting higher pay. Staying positive not only increases your chances of getting what you deserve, but it also helps to keep the negotiation process itself less stressful. 

With these tips in mind, you should feel more confident about securing the best possible salary when starting your new job. Whether it means researching typical salaries beforehand or learning how to negotiate effectively, there are many things you can do to make sure that you earn what you’re worth. Do not undersell yourself! Just because you may still have more to learn doesn’t mean you should be paid less. Advocate for yourself like you would for your best friend. You’ve got this. Now let’s get PAID!


The newsletter for ambitious women in marketing.

Marketing news to elevate your career – plus an inspiring interview – delivered to your inbox weekly, for free.