Is your first salary negotiation coming up? Then remember this

As a new graduate, negotiating salary can be scary. But it is vital to your entire career that you set the bar at the right height from the beginning. Here are some good tips from IDA’s legal experts.

Even though you are ecstatically happy that you have secured your first job, it is important to keep your cool. When you are new to the job market, you are also new to salary negotiations. And the wording of your contract is by no means irrelevant. Here are some of the issues you should be aware of:

Check out your new workplace

Do you work in the public sector or in a private company where IDA has a collective agreement? Or do you work somewhere where you have to negotiate directly with your manager yourself? These points are of relevance to the part you will play when negotiating your salary. For example, if you are employed in the public sector, a union representative will negotiate on your behalf and will advise you on salary scale and potential individual supplements.

IDA can assist you in negotiating your salary

Get tips and tricks for your salary negotiation and let our legal advisors go through your contract before you sign it.

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Set the bar as high as possible

Your first salary negotiation is extremely important. It sets the direction for your salary for the rest of your career. Therefore: Make ambitious but realistic demands.

IDA has negotiated recommended minimum salaries for new graduates. You can use these as a guideline for your salary level. 

Our company statistics indicate the salary level at a given workplace, and you can compare your own salary with that of your colleagues.

Check out the salary statistics

IDA’s Salary Calculator will also give you an idea of the gross salary for a profile similar to your own. Always try to push your salary up to a level that is as high – but of course as realistic – as possible at your first salary negotiation.

It is not likely that you will be able to increase your salary by several thousand DKK in one go at later negotiations – unless, of course, you become a manager or project manager or change industries.

Keep an eye on your pension

It probably sounds extremely grey and boring to have to consider pension when you’re about to start your very first job and aren’t very old. But pension is – and will become – a key issue. You should be aware that the salary package at some private companies does not include pension, and this varies greatly.

Some major private companies have a collective agreement with IDA. In these cases, pension has been negotiated in advance. Pension is also included in collective agreements in the public sector. Just remember that if pension is not included in your salary, your salary should be correspondingly higher to cover your payments to a pension scheme.

So, pension is an important negotiating tool. Keep a close eye on the percentages: What does the employer contribute and how much are you required to contribute yourself? Check this against industry or company standards.

Put your skills on the table

As a new graduate, you may not feel that you can boast of great breakthroughs that have led to growth or development. But think again! Many of IDA’s young members have study jobs that are actually extremely relevant to their job profile.

If you have had a professionally relevant study job, make sure to use the skills you have acquired when you negotiate. This is particularly relevant if you have been involved in development or innovation activities.

If you have performed voluntary work – for example, if you have been a scout leader or been politically active – you can use this when arguing how much you are worth. It indicates that you are an active, dedicated individual and this could be transferred to your pay slip.

In any case, you will draw attention to yourself and your professional expertise if you mention these skills, and that is always good.

Ask about salary but in moderation

In the public sector, you must talk to your union representative before you sign a contract. So, you have his or her support there.

In the case of a private company where IDA does not have a collective agreement, you have some research to do yourself. If you know someone at the company in question, you could ask them about salary.

If, on the other hand, you do not know anyone at the company, you should not begin contacting new colleagues and asking them about their salary. IDA has a number of tools that give you a good idea of what your salary should be: recommended minimum salaries for new graduates and company statistics that indicate salary levels at a given workplace. IDA’s Salary Calculator will also give you an idea of the gross salary for a profile similar to your own.

Clauses and bonuses

You should be aware of the fact that there may be competition and customer clauses in your contract. These may restrict you if you suddenly decide to move on to another job. The law stipulates when and how clauses may be added. Therefore, you should always ask IDA’s legal experts to look through your contract before you sign.

Bonus schemes are another issue. These are usually offered to employees with special skills or who work in niche fields such as IT. They sound wonderful, but if they are not specifically expressed in monetary terms they may not materialise. You must have the courage to ask how a potential bonus would be put together. Are there company targets that must be met before you gain from the bonus scheme? Is it realistic that these targets will be met and that you – as a new graduate – will be given a share of the bonus? If not, it is probably better to aim for a larger pay rise.

Lots to negotiate about

Don’t forget that you can negotiate about everything.

For example, you can negotiate your way to additional training and courses, free mobile phone, paid internet and more flexible working hours. Additional training might not sound very attractive when you have just spent the last few years with your nose in a book. However, it is important and there may be a course you need.

When you have prepared your agenda, select two to three arguments that support what you can do. Stick to your arguments: explain, specify and repeat. And remember that, even if your requests are not met, a salary negotiation is never in vain. It is an opportunity to show who you are and what you can do.