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Salary negotiation may seem like a risky proposition for most college graduates seeking their first full-time position. Depending on the industry or position you are seeking, you may not have the leverage to bargain salary at all. It’s always best to have a strategy in mind when you get to this point of the hiring process.

Getting an offer from a company means they are excited about you as a candidate and want to work with you. While the idea of negotiating your salary may be uncomfortable, it’s a normal part of the job search and most employers expect it. Here are some tips to help you prepare for negotiating.

Do research

Remember, your compensation isn’t just your annual salary. It also includes things like healthcare benefits, paid time off, transportation perks, bonuses and more. When it comes to negotiating, doing research to get an idea of what a typical offer is for similar job positions can help ensure your counteroffer is within reason.

Glassdoor allows you to see self-reported salaries from current and former employees at specific companies. Also, Payscale will evaluate your offer letter and compare it to industry and area statistics. Both of these resources can provide data to strengthen your negotiation.

Take note of cost of living

In addition to compensation data, you should research the cost of living for the area you’ll be working in. When you get an offer, you will want to make sure it’s enough to pay for food, rent and bills. Ideally, you’ll also have enough for savings, fun and any other expenses you have. NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator can help you compare two cities and how much you’ll need to earn to meet the cost of living.

Open the door for conversation

To start, reaffirm your interest and enthusiasm in the company’s mission and the job position. You can demonstrate this by allowing the negotiation to be a conversation. Include questions in your negotiation, like “is this feasible?”, or request a conversation if you’re following up on an offer over email. For example, “I am excited about the opportunity to work at this company. Please let me know if it is better to talk more about this over the phone or in person.”

State your case

Using what you found in your research, present a clear justification for the negotiation. If you are asking for increased pay or benefits, share the reason for it based on your evidence. And talk about your experiences that make you a more standout candidate. If you’re asking for more vacation time or a later start date, do you have a commitment that warrants this? If so, it may help if you share it, but isn’t required. 

In the end if you don’t get the salary you were hoping for, consider the benefits you’ll be getting from the job or other areas that may be up for discussion, like work schedule or flexible work arrangements. Overall, it’s all about deciding if the job is the right fit for you.