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Even new grads can negotiate salary if they're realistic, experts say

And remember salary isn't everything. Smaller firms may have more wiggle room on fringe benefits than on pay rates.

New grads should research realistic salary ranges before

New grads should research realistic salary ranges before negotiating.  Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStock

Grads in the class of 2018 know they can’t assume they’ll walk into their dream job before the ink on their diploma dries. In fact, getting a job at all will be cause for celebration.

So, does this mean you should just count your lucky stars and not consider negotiating for what you want when it comes to salary and benefits? Hardly.

Gain confidence: Negotiating salary can be a scary prospect for all job seekers, but especially for those who may not have much experience. “Gaining confidence to negotiate is a good first step to calm any nerves. Know what salary ranges to expect before heading into an interview. Use sites like Glassdoor and Salary.com for a good starting place to negotiate and know what’s fair,” says Jacquelyn Smith, Massapequa-based director of content for career site FlexJobs.com.

That information is critical. “You want to know your value and benchmark your salary and benefits,” says Marianna Savoca, director of Stony Brook University’s Career Center.

Consider the entire package: Salary isn’t all that matters. Maybe there are opportunities to work some days from home, for example. “Take into account vacation, commuting costs, starting bonus, tuition benefits and professional development. Depending on the size of the company, they may have more wiggle room with fringe benefits than salary,” says Nicole Isenhour, a career consultant with Point Road Group in Manhattan.

Don’t sabotage yourself: Be patient and realistic. Says Savoca, “Don’t negotiate anything before a job offer is made and don’t think an employer has an obligation to give you everything you need.”

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