The right way to find a job is to think about your hourly rate, even if you are a salaried employee.
Here’s my lesson learned when I switched jobs 3.5 years ago: I didn’t think about my hourly worth.
At that time, I was making $60,000 per year, three years out of college. I was contracted to work 40 hours/week so a total of 2,040 hours per year, not counting paid vacation, which was three weeks per year. $60,000 for 2,040 hours would equate my hourly rate at $29.41/hour.
When I switched jobs, I accepted $72,000/ year! But, I was also contracted to put in 50 hours/ week! Working 2,600 hours a year, meaning my hourly compensation at my new job was $27.69/ hour, and I only got two weeks of vacation a year.
I was lured by a higher annual salary, but in fact, I lost out on the deal. I SHOULD have negotiated to at least $76,500/year starting salary ($29.41 x 2,600), with three weeks vacation time, but what can I say other than hindsight is 20/20 and that I was young, naive, and inexperienced? I didn’t feel like I could negotiate because I doubted myself and felt that if I played “hardball” at negotiating with a new employer, they would be turned off and rescind their offer.
However, I now see that your starting salary is so important, because every raise and new offer hinges upon that. A 5% raise from a starting salary of $72,000 would mean a bump to $75,600, but a 5% raise from a starting salary of $76,500 would mean a bump to $80,325.
The difference of leaving $4,500 on the table in the beginning would grow exponentially over the course of a career.
New grads may feel like they don’t have much room for negotiation. After all, what unique experiences could they offer a prospective employer?
For new grads, I would say the strongest negotiation point would be to apply to as many companies as you are interested in, and go with the company that can offer you a balance between money and opportunities. When you are young, your objective is to figure out what you are interested in and good at, so it is important to keep an open mind! A job you may have never thought you would do might end up being a job you are passionate about!
Money is definitely NOT everything, so that is why you want to find a company that will offer you many opportunities to be involved in all aspects of the job.
Some companies won’t have many tasks for young grads to take on, so new grads in these companies find themselves bored and struggling to find things to occupy 8 hours of their day. Why they would be hiring is beyond me, and just another reason why over bloated companies exist!