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HomeMoneyImportance of Negotiating Salary as a Recent Grad: Insights from 3 Professionals

Importance of Negotiating Salary as a Recent Grad: Insights from 3 Professionals

They’ll never offer you the highest amount first: 3 recent grads on the importance of negotiating salary right out of college

The oldest members of Gen Z are entering the workforce and leading conversations on salary transparency and pay equity. With access to online resources and new laws requiring businesses to list ranges on job openings, these young workers are more equipped than ever to negotiate salaries. Here are three recent grads who managed to boost their compensation packages straight out of college.

1. Use your network and research to your advantage

When presented with job offers, Samantha Lenger first researched salaries on sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. She then reached out to friends getting offers at the same conference and people in her network with one to three years of experience. By putting her numbers out there first and asking whether her offer was within the ballpark of what others were seeing, Lenger made the conversation feel less invasive. Additionally, by talking about money with colleagues, Gen Z and millennial workers are making salary conversations less taboo.

2. Cold-message former interns for advice and insights

Communications major Sarah Wang cold-messaged former interns at companies she was interviewing with for their advice on making an impression. After securing an offer, Wang thanked her contacts and updated them with her offer letter before asking whether they successfully negotiated a higher amount. By using research from those conversations to talk to recruiters about competitive salaries, Wang successfully negotiated her way through internships while still in school.

3. Leverage competing job and internship offers

Both Lenger and Wang used competing job and internship offers to negotiate for more money at their top choice employers. Lenger laid out her competing offer and negotiation in an email, which resulted in a $10,000 boost. Wang used insights from her conversations with previous interns to negotiate a higher rate, insisting it was comparable to what was previously offered to interns with similar qualifications.

Related Facts

  • 64% of Gen Z job-seekers and 55% of job-seekers overall won’t apply to a job posting that lacks wage or salary information (Joblist, 2023).
  • Search interest for the question “Can you do internships after graduation?” increased by 1,850% between January 2021 and March 2023 (Semrush data provided to CNBC Make It).
  • Gen Z and millennial workers are more eager than other generations to talk salaries in the workplace, but many people wish it was less taboo to talk about money with their colleagues (Monster survey).

Key Takeaway

Negotiating a salary right out of college can be intimidating, but there are ways to make it less daunting. By using your network, researching salaries, cold-messaging former interns for advice, and leveraging competing job offers, you can negotiate competitive salaries while building your career. Remember, they’ll never offer you the highest amount first, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.


Gen Zers like Samantha Lenger and Sarah Wang are proving that there’s power in negotiating salaries straight out of college. By using research and their networks to their advantage and leveraging competing job offers, they’ve successfully negotiated higher compensation packages. As more young workers enter the workforce, it’s important to have these conversations about salary transparency and pay equity to ensure fair compensation for all.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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