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Know Your Worth: A Guide to Negotiating Salary

negotiating salary

A Guide to Negotiating Salary

This is my guide to negotiating salary. As a recent college graduate and facing the grueling process of finding a job, I felt slightly intimidated.  But with a major in marketing and Corporate Relations, in addition to prior experience in journalism, public relations, digital media and advertising my confidence began to soar.  My first couple of job interviews were in April before graduation.  I spent the remainder of the summer job searching and interviewing.  The opportunities were not exciting because they did not offer the challenge that I needed.  Work should be fun and offer opportunities to grow.

Just my luck, I interviewed for an account coordinator position at an advertising agency in the very place that I thought I did not want to be, home.  I was offered the position at five months pregnant, and I accepted.  I went to college five hours away and was comfortable with where I lived.  My attitude about moving back quickly changed once I accepted the position.  The company culture is fun, close-knit and extremely challenging.  I know that I have a lot to learn from this talented group.

negotiating salary

Just because you are entry-level, doesn’t mean you have to accept what you’re being offered.

However, the starting salary was lower than I expected. I took into account the fact that I lived in Mississippi, but it was still too low. The toughest question was, “Do I take this job for the experience or do I reject it because of the pay?” Other factors that came into play that were pros and cons was the fact that I was expecting, and that I was moving back home and would not have as many bills to pay.

The BIGGEST determining factor was that accepting this position would mean moving 5 hours away from the person I was starting a family with. From the very beginning, he supported my desire to start my career and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I accepted the position, but not before sending a letter. In the letter, I explained why I deserve to be paid more than the initial offer. How? Here are a few tips for knowing your worth and negotiating salary.

Tip 1:

Wait until you have been formally offered the job and sent a contract. Negotiating salary before you sign the contract is important. It is easier negotiating salary and benefits beforehand.

Tip 2:

RESEARCH! Researching will be your best friend when it comes to negotiating salary and benefits. Sites like and are a great tool to use to find salary ranges in your area. Keep in mind that these numbers are an average, so it is possible to get an offer lower than average. The rule of thumb is to counter-offer with 15-20 percent more than what you are offered.

Tip 3:

Send a document outlining your appreciation for the job offer and that you do not want to jeopardize the offer, but you have a few questions. What I did was ask if it was possible for the firm to offer a higher salary. Include reasoning and examples on why you deserve more.

Tip 4:

If a higher salary cannot be offered, suggest a signing bonus.

Tip 5:

Do not be the first one to throw out a number. Allow the employer to give you a number, and negotiate from there.

For example, in my letter I stated:

“Thank you for this opportunity! This company feels like a great fit to begin my career. I have received the contract and read through it. I do not want to jeopardize this job offer, seeing as how it is such a beneficial opportunity. However, I do have a few questions that I would like to ask.

Is it possible for the firm to offer me a higher pay? As I was researching starting salaries for an entry-level Account Coordinator position, I began to dig deeper and seek out average starting salaries for this position in South Mississippi. I use frequently and I would like to cite them as a source. An entry-level Account Coordinator in the Gulfport/Biloxi and Hattiesburg area makes on average $41,000 a year. I would also like to cite for providing me with similar information.

These Account Coordinator positions in the area mention the same job duties that I will be assigned. I also believe that I am an employee that will go above and beyond to serve this firm well and that with the entry-level experience that I have to offer, a starting salary to compete with the area’s average is reasonable. As an alternative to higher pay, I would like to suggest negotiating a one-time signing bonus that is 8-20% of my base salary. I am open to any suggestions and negotiations to reach a middle ground as quickly and effectively as possible.”

In the end, my boss expressed her appreciation for the well thought out letter and offered me a higher salary. It was important for me to know my worth. As a minority and as a woman, it is difficult to get the pay that I deserve. We are not there yet, but I want to continue the efforts towards being treated as an equal to my white and male counterparts. So, know your worth, lady and stick with it! Confidence is key.

Read: “My First Post-Grad Summer: 5 Things We All Need to Know” 


  1. Ashley Phillips says:

    Hey Brittany,

    This is so helpful, most definitely will refer to this once I complete my Master’s of Occupational Therapy in the fall of 2018. Thanks for sharing ❤️

  2. Robyn says:

    Very informative!!!

  3. Kyara says:

    So brave and bold! Love it!

  4. JaVaughnae says:

    Great Information and tips!! Thanks for sharing!!

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Brittany Bright


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