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Updated: 29 Jan 2021

The Best Salary Negotiation Training Skills for College Students

Salary Negotiation Tips for College Students


Sharing negotiation training advice for college students approaching their early business career negotiations.

by Calum Coburn

College Students and Negotiation Experience

Sometimes, college graduates are lucky enough for their employer pay for their spot on one of our negotiation seminars. So, how well do college graduates perform on our negotiation skills seminars? College students almost always get the lowest scores using our online negotiation simulation role-plays. Also, college students tend to struggle to hold their own against seasoned negotiators in our classes.

Despite this, our college students tell us they’re very happy to have learned so much about business negotiation. After taking our negotiation courses, these students feel much more confident going into their interviews. Experience counts for so much when building a skill. So, in this article, we would like to share top tips from the best business negotiation seminars that are most useful for new graduates. This advice covers some of the most important dimensions of a first job offer negotiation.

Tip 1: How should college students balance their experience deficit?

Fresh out of college, most students go into their first job interviews at an extreme disadvantage. College students often either don’t achieve favorable terms or lose the job opportunity entirely due to bungling the interview process.

By contrast, the managers that college students are being interviewed by are typically very well trained, and have earned their stripes with experience that comes from conducting hundreds of salary negotiation interviews. The matchup between managers and college students is like entering the ring with an experienced boxer after only having seen boxing on TV.

So, aside from booking your place on our negotiation online course, what can college students do to bridge their experience gap? First of all, practice is key. Many students will personally know a business manager with job interview and salary negotiation skills. Most experienced negotiators are happy to help if you ask for a limited amount of their time and can give them a specific briefing. So, find yourself a willing “coach.” Then, teach yourself how with a salary negotiation role-play exercise.

There are also many books on the toughest interview questions. Write your answers to these questions down. The difficult questions that might come up at an interview are too important to risk making up responses off the cuff.

Tip 2: How should college students negotiate other aspects?

The biggest challenge most college students face is not attempting to negotiate ANY of these important terms. Without proper onsite negotiation training, students can talk themselves into a corner with inaccurate beliefs. For example, “If I try to ask for more than the next student, the employer will push me aside. They will take someone who is less demanding and is just happy to land their first real job.” The first challenge is to ask the employer what their standard offer is and on which terms they can be flexible.

Watch your interviewer closely as you ask them for their full offering. Train your eyes and ears to see and read their nonverbal or body language signals. When you can detect what the interviewer is saying beyond words, you can see where they are more firm and where they are more open. What to ask for? Vacation days, sick days, relocation, signing bonus, benefits, retirement plans.

Ask around to find an employee who works or has worked for the company. Try to figure out the company’s standard offering and where the company has previously flexed. If you’re able to talk with HR, then bring your questions to your HR interview. Rather than asking where the company are willing to budge, ask where they “typically” have more flexibility. Most employers are happier talking in the hypothetical rather than feeling like you’re cornering them to improve their offer.

Tip 3: When negotiating with an employer, what should students focus on?

Smart graduates on our Sales Training in New York City seminars tell us that they care most about gaining the best experience. These students want to set a solid foundation for their future career. While money is important, money shouldn’t be your primary focus for your first position. So long as you’re gaining the best experience and skills to set you up for your NEXT career move, it can be worth:

  • Commuting further
  • Earning less
  • Working longer hours
  • Enduring a less desirable culture
  • Having fewer benefits  

Wise students know not to compromise their career trajectory by settling for short-term incentives and comforts. At the same time, if you intend to stay with your employer for the long haul, then your starting salary will affect your future salary potential. You may find it useful to ask for a review after three to six months. You could also agree on performance measures that could lead to you earning a raise.

Tip 4: What should college students research before their first interview?

Research your position on offers at your preferred company. Also, research your preferred company in general. Then, interview with their competitors or other companies.

  • Research: Most students don’t complete enough homework on their employer. It’s crucial to know your employer before you negotiate with them. Few applicants research their prospective employers or their offers before attending interviews. By researching, the employer will be impressed and more likely to award you with the position. Your questions will also be far better as a result of what you uncover in your research. If you know who’s going to interview you, research your interviewers, too. LinkedIn is a great place to start. You could also try to find interviewers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, which may reveal information you can use. Students are more skilled than most at online research. So, capitalize on your advantage. 
  • Yes, you read correctly: Interview with their competitors. At least, interview with other companies first. When it comes to training for your interview, it pays to have alternatives up your sleeve. For this, you need to acquire valuable interview practice. Yes, you still want to, and hopefully will, land that perfect role with your ideal company. Remember that the best path between two points is often not a straight line. You don’t want to be choosing between a lousy offer from your preferred company and nothing. Get two or more offers on the table. Then, you may enjoy salary negotiation leverage to get your preferred employer to make a better offer. Alternatively, be prepared to walk away and work with another company who’s willing to make you an offer that you’ll feel happy saying yes to.

Ongoing Career Training

If you liked this article and want to learn more about salary negotiation seminar skills, then read our 32-point salary negotiation tips post. Your most important asset is you. So, if we were to leave you with one piece of advice, it’s: “Invest in yourself.”

Your lowest-cost long-term route is often going to be reading books or listening to audiobooks. One book a month will quickly add up over a few years to place you ahead of your colleagues. The information you learn from business and negotiation books can lead you towards delivering results that your employer can’t help but notice, want to reward, and retain. Let your college graduation be the start of your lifelong training journey.

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