first job: starting salary, benefits, and more

Posted : May 6, 2008
Last Updated : May 22, 2018

first job: starting salary, benefits, and more

The starting salary is probably the main factor that most recent grads take into account when searching for a new job. While the starting salary is important, you shouldn't let it cloud your vision. You need to look at the overall picture, not just the dollar figure. Keep these tips in mind once you graduate from college and begin your search for employment.

Starting Salary

Be realistic when it comes to your starting salary. Recognize that you aren't going to go into a company making the same as someone who has been there for years. However, if you have a good GPA, some industry experience, etc., you may be able to negotiate a better salary. Before your interview, be sure to do your research about the average starting salary for the industry and for someone with your background and experience. During the interview, it's better if you are not the first person to bring up the salary issue. You want to see what the employer is willing to pay before you say what you are willing to accept. If the offer is less than what you want, resist any pressure to give an immediate answer about whether or not the offer is acceptable. Wait until you have been offered the job before you try to negotiate the salary. Keep in mind that base salary isn't the only thing to consider. Find out when you will be eligible for performance-based raises. Some companies start with lower salaries but give performance raises after three or six months.


When searching for employment, you should also consider the company benefits. Good benefits can make a job with a lower starting salary much more appealing. One of the main benefits to consider is the company's health insurance. Some companies will pay 100% of your coverage. At other companies, you may have to contribute a certain percentage, and the amount that you will have to contribute will vary between each company. Another benefit to think about is the company's retirement plan. Find out if the company offers a matching contribution to an employee's retirement plan. Matching contributions will vary among plans and companies.

When searching for a job, you should also consider other company benefits including:

  • Flex schedule
  • Gym membership
  • Subsidized transportation
  • Education funding
  • Vacation and sick leave
  • Childcare facilities
  • Remote work

Other Factors

On top of starting salary and benefits, you also need to weigh a few other factors when looking for employment. These factors will affect you now and in the future, so it's crucial that you consider them when making your career decision.

  • Opportunity for advancement. As a new grad, you will most likely be offered an entry-level position. Before you accept a job offer, find out how much opportunity there is for advancement. Even if the starting salary is low, you may be able to move up in the company quickly, allowing for more income.
  • Lifestyle. When deciding on a job, think about what's important to you. Where do you want to live? Do you want to remain near your family and friends or experience a whole new place? Would you settle for a job with low pay that you really enjoy or is money a huge factor?
  • Gaining skills and experience. You should also consider the skills and experience you would like to obtain from a first job. If possible, opt for the job that will give you the skills needed to advance in your chosen career.

As you can see, your first full-time job is about more than just salary. Look at the whole picture and weigh your options before you accept a job offer. Good luck in your search for employment!


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