Denna S
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
4 min read

How to negotiate salary and work flexibility for a graduate job

There’s often the common-sense advice prescribed to graduates undergoing interviews, such as not to go badmouthing your past employer or not to express dislike for your last role during an interview with a prospective employer. However, when it comes to discussing salary and work flexibility at an interview we’re given contradictory advice. We often hear that graduates should not discuss or bring up salary or work flexibility questions during an interview.


Graduates are told to skirt salary questions, but salary and work flexibility aligning with what you expect affects your level of contentment, commitment and staying power in a company and important to discuss before starting work. The timing of the discussion is crucial in the hiring process. If you speak too soon, it may put you out of the running and if you wait till the end, you may not get what you need.



Make getting the graduate role your focus

At the interview stage, your first priority is getting the job. The interviewer is looking for someone who will be dedicated to the job and company. Asking questions about working from home seem to suggest your dedication to your life outside of work. Work life balance is important but questions pertaining to salary and work flexibility make it seems like your needs are at the forefront and more important than your role. The takeaway will be that there is less concern about the company’s needs and lack of fit with the company’s goals.


Make sure to communicate skills and accomplishments that demonstrate the value that you will bring to the company and wait it out if the organisation doesn’t bring up the salary and work schedule expectations till you have an offer before negotiating salary or flexible work schedules. Always keep in mind that the function of an interview is to see if you can do the job well and fit with the company’s culture and with the team and be pleasant to work with. If, during the interview, things are going well and salary and work flexibility comes up you may as well address your expectations.


You could also start by scoping out the possibilities through questions about the company culture. It’s important to be confident and really bring your skills and experience to the forefront. You don’t want to start off by implying that you don’t want to spend too much time in the office or making flexibility your focus.


Negotiate upon the graduate job offer

When an offer is extended, a natural discussion about your work expectations is warranted. If salary expectations are discussed during an interview, don’t skirt around the question. Know your worth but also weigh in on how crucial salary and work flexibility is to you in comparison to the experience you will be gaining. If questions of work flexibility and salary expectations don’t come up during an interview, bring it up when you are offered the role. This puts you at a bargaining advantage as the company desires to make you one of their employees. During the offer, you can negotiate as the cards are in your hand- they liked you, they think you’d be a good fit for the company and feel you’d do the job well based on the interview. Now is the best time to negotiate salary and work schedule preferences.


Do your research

To be prepared for the negotiation, do your research beforehand. Do they have other employees working with flexible schedules? How do you determine whether the company offers work flexibility if it’s not listed? Look on their website for similar job postings to check whether other roles have flexible work options. Networking within the company and finding out from current or ex-employees whether the company has experience with flexible work scheduling for its employers is a good bet. Through this assessment you can determine whether bringing up work flexibility would be well received or put you out of the running for a job offer.



Come to a compromise

Prepare yourself that during the negotiation the answer may just be a flat-out no. This is a perfect opportunity to assess whether or not this would work for you or if the experience gained at the company trumps your desire for work flexibility.  Is a possible negotiation after proving your work ethic viable? Companies may offer some flexibility on work schedule. Compromising is key in order to reach a middle ground that aligns with the company and your expectations. Demonstrate how preferred work flexibility can work for your future employer and company. Highlight your ability to do the work, with current role examples.

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