Graduates & Pay Negotiation



In a previous article, I discussed Graduates and their First Job

Assuming that you are one of the fortunate graduates to have survived the job hunting jungle, what happens thereafter?   Well the employer has selected YOU (can you believe it?), over 98 other graduates for the position of (insert title).  It doesn’t matter that other graduates where smarter, good looking, talented or competent.  The employer rejected them and chose YOU.

The Offer

But then you get the offer. And your initial enthusiasm for the position evaporates before you’ve walked out of the building.  You wonder whether you can really get ahead on a net pay of Rxxx per month. You are unconcerned about the other items before net pay.  You realise that your dream of buying a BMW will have to wait. Unless you settle for the 1982 model.  Maybe the other graduates knew something that you didn’t.  You are rethinking whether you should accept the offer. Or go back into the job stampede with other graduates.

Graduates & Pay Negotiation

Unfortunately there is not that much room for graduates to negotiate with employers.  The reason is due to market supply/demand factors, employer job grades and remuneration bands.  While pay is always negotiable, the employer is unlikely to view your package in this way.

A graduate that does not have adequate work experience, is not in a strong position to negotiate higher pay compared to those who have already worked before.  Unfortunately, graduates that expect higher pay solely on account of having a degree or diploma, won’t win this round. The minimum required for the job offering Rxxx was the degree or diploma. It was not the maximum requirement.

Graduates & Field of Study

Generally, graduates from the science and commerce fields,  command higher pay compared to those from humanities and arts.  Until the market changes this position, don’t expect the pay gap between graduates with Accounting 3 versus English 3 to close.  Bear in mind that many graduates from humanities & arts struggle to land jobs, before they can even consider negotiating pay.

You versus Other Graduates

So you are special?  You are not in the same league as other graduates?   Well it may help in the negotiation process to know your potential and demonstrating to the employer why you are special.  In the course of an interview, it will come down to the how much you will be getting.  If you have clearly shown that you stand above other graduates applying for the job,  you could try to negotiate. You do not need to automatically accept what is given and reply “ok” ending it there.  You could discuss the pay with the employer when an offer has been made.  Graduates should discuss pay in the context of job responsibilities and their potential contribution. Remember we are assuming that you are special, not in the same league as other graduates.

In the end,  getting a job is not only about the pay.  There are other graduates that would jump on board for the position that you’ve been offerred. You should investigate the package that the employer offers graduates – thoroughly checking out the opportunities, training, development, benefits, incentives and perks.  You may discover a lot more hidden value in the offer than what you expected.


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