While there are many potential points of negotiation, salary is usually the primary issue. Keep in mind that any discussion of salary negotiation might put the job offer at risk. So tread carefully through salary negotiation.
Many companies have a fairly tight (although not airtight) salary range at the entry level. If you are able to show extraordinary educational or work experience, you may be able to extend the top end of the scale. Yet the magnitude of salary differentials will always be smaller at the entry level than at higher-level positions. So do not get carried away, even if you have multiple offers in hand.
When discussing salary, always state that you are "hoping" for more, instead of "expecting" more. Companies are always more willing to fulfill your hopes than your expectations. And keep your personal budgetary needs out of the equation. Having a larger personal budget does little to inflate your worth from a company perspective.
To better establish the acceptable range for the position, ask about the hiring salary range. Most larger companies will have set ranges to work within, although many medium to smaller companies may have more flexible market-driven ranges. Following are some sample questions to ask in salary negotiations:
"What is the salary range for the position?"
"What is the hiring salary range for the position?"
"Do you ever pay higher than that range? If so, for what reason?"
"What is the average increase being given? After one year? Two years? Three?"
"How often is the employee reviewed? For performance? Salary?"
In attempting to modify salary, you may find that the best you can achieve is a promise for tomorrow. If so, be sure to get it in writing from a person with authority to make it stick.
And in the end, do not let salary be your only guide. You are much better off making $40,000 a year and happy than $60,000 a year and miserable. The money will take care of itself over time when you are doing work that you love.
The Friendly Advice Technique
What do you do if you find yourself attempting to negotiate with someone who does not have the authority to negotiate or make changes? Do not attempt to negotiate, just simply ask for their advice. "What would you recommend…?" or "How would you recommend…?" questions will allow you to seek the individual's advice and counsel, without putting them in the uncomfortable position of not being able to respond.
Take careful notes of the steps you are recommended to follow. Even though the individual may not have a great deal of personal authority, they may be willing to give you the keys to unlocking some of the doors in negotiating. These answers are being given to you without cost. Yet the value and payback can be substantial.