Ask Brianna: Should I ask for more money at my first job?

FILE - This June 24, 2016, file photo, provided by NerdWallet shows Brianna McGurran, a columnist for personal finance website NerdWallet.com. "Ask Brianna" is a Q&A column for 20-somethings, or anyone else starting out. (Jazeena Baeza/NerdWallet via AP, File)

"Ask Brianna" is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I'm here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com.

Q: I got an offer for my first full-time job, and the salary is lower than I expected. Should I ask for more money?

A: I didn't negotiate salary at my first two jobs after college. The first was a government position with a set salary limit. When I got the offer for my second job, at a nonprofit, I'd been out of work for months and was desperate to move out of my parents' house. I took the first offer the organization gave me, which came out to about $25,000 a year after taxes — not much to live on in New York City.

My hasty acceptance became more of a problem the longer I worked there. My raises were based on the original salary I hadn't negotiated. Eventually I was earning less than my peers at the nonprofit, many of whom had negotiated for higher starting salaries and gotten raises on top of those. I got a conciliatory "salary bump," but I didn't feel much better. I was embarrassed that I hadn't spoken up for myself, and I could barely save a dollar after paying for rent, food and student loan bills.

Let my experience be a lesson to you: Whether you're a man or a woman, a new grad or a career changer, you should negotiate when your employer offers you less money than you know you should be paid.

So why is it so hard to ask for more money? Maybe you're worried, like I was, that it will make you seem greedy and ungrateful, or that the company will withdraw its offer. Maybe you have no idea how to start the conversation.

Nearly 60 percent of all workers surveyed by the career website Glassdoor in May 2016 took the first salary offer they received at their current or most recent job. Women were even less likely to negotiate than men: 68 percent of women didn't negotiate, compared with 52 percent of men.

"The particular challenge is that we're not necessarily taught how to do this," says Lisa Ernst, executive director of Savvy Ladies, a New York nonprofit that offers financial education for women. It can be especially hard for women to negotiate, she says, because "they don't want to be seen as aggressive and unlikeable."

Some employers, like my first, have salary bands they can't or won't budge on. But in most cases, hiring managers expect you to negotiate. I negotiated salary at my third job, and I survived — and got more money.

Only 6 percent of employers said they were never willing to negotiate with entry-level employees, according to a survey conducted last year by my company, NerdWallet, and the recruiting platform LookSharp. Three out of four employers said they were not only willing to negotiate, but had room to increase their initial salary offers by 5 percent to 10 percent.

To figure out how much you're worth, look up the average starting salary in your role where you live. Ask the career services director at your school, alumni in your field and connections you've met at industry conferences what the going rate is for recent graduates in the job you've applied for. Check online resources like PayScale . Come up with a baseline number and decide you'll negotiate if you're offered less.

Then practice what you'll say if the offer is less than what you want — do it with a friend, a pet or while looking in the mirror. Your script should include gratitude, excitement at the job opportunity and a specific counteroffer. Most importantly, say why you deserve more and focus on the value you'd bring to the company.

For example, your response could follow this model: "Thank you for the offer, and I couldn't be more excited to join this company and to contribute to the team. Taking into account the market rate for this area, I believe that (insert amount) is more in line with my skills and experience."

Done respectfully and with research to back it up, negotiating will make you look good. A full 76 percent of employers told NerdWallet and LookSharp that new grads who negotiated seemed confident, while only about 25 percent said they seemed entitled. Besides, if your potential company rescinds its offer over a request for an extra $5,000 a year, maybe it wouldn't be all that delightful to work for anyway.

_____

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet.

Email NerdWallet staff writer Brianna McGurran: bmcgurran@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

RELATED LINKS:

NerdWallet: Recent Graduates Are Not Negotiating Salary — Losing Out on Crucial Income: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/student-loans/negotiating-salary-study?trk=nw-synd_442_0_0

Glassdoor: 3 in 5 Employees Did Not Negotiate Salary: https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/3-5-u-s-employees-negotiate-salary/

Must Read

Developments in the saga of the American swimmers in Brazil

Aug 20, 2016

The saga of American swimmer Ryan Lochte and three teammates has produced a head-spinning series of...

Image of Asia: Protesting killings of civilians in Kashmir

Aug 22, 2016

Image of Asia: Neighbors and relatives of a man killed by a tear gas shell shout anti-India slogans...

Italy, German, French eye beefed up EU defense after attacks

Aug 22, 2016

The leaders of Italy, France and Germany vowed Monday to improve European-wide security efforts in...

UN: Thousands of Central American children seek to enter US

Aug 23, 2016

UN children's agency says thousands of children trying to escape gang violence and poverty in...

Image of Asia: Floodwaters cover low-lying land in Allahabad

Aug 23, 2016

Image of Asia: Floodwaters cover low-lying areas of Allahabad, India

People also read these

Pfizer spends $14B on Medivation in cancer fight

Aug 22, 2016

Pfizer will pay about $14 billion to buy cancer drug developer Medivation as it fortifies its hold...

Image of Asia: Protesting killings of civilians in Kashmir

Aug 22, 2016

Image of Asia: Neighbors and relatives of a man killed by a tear gas shell shout anti-India slogans...

Liz Weston: Secrets of next-door millionaires

Aug 22, 2016

Next-door millionaires aren't born into money; they earn it over time

Soldier who killed 5 Dallas officers showed PTSD symptoms

Aug 25, 2016

The Army reservist who killed five Dallas police officers last month showed symptoms of...

Russia downplays conflict with US over Syria weapons report

Aug 25, 2016

Russia's UN ambassador said Thursday there doesn't have to be a confrontation with the United...

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH