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Should you negotiate your salary as a fresh graduate? - Say What? #28

Hi everyone! Before anything else, I wanted to say thank you to every single one of you here. One yea
December 14 · Issue #28 · View online
Say What?
Hi everyone!
Before anything else, I wanted to say thank you to every single one of you here. One year ago, when my friend, Aizan, suggested that I start this newsletter project, I did not expect it to be well-received. Email newsletters are not that big in Malaysia, and I didn’t know how people would react to this.
But, here we are.
12 months into the year, our 28th issue (25th of the year), and 109 subscribers (and counting).
Some of you have been here longer than others, while some of you have just subscribed. But, regardless when you subscribed, I want thank you for subscribing. I hope that the newsletter lives up to your expectation(s) :)
If any of you (like me!) are in the job search right now, here are some thoughts into how you can negotiate your salary. For those of you who are still studying, you may want to start planning ahead for your future job search.
Hope you enjoy it!

To nego, or not to nego?
Syaza Nazura on Twitter: "Always negotiate your salary when you get a job offer. Never accept a job offer without asking about benefit packages or any perks / allowances. You’ll be spending a lot of time at work so make sure you’re completely happy about the offer and can make an INFORMED decision."
I tweet-ed the above recently, mainly because of my personal experience of going through the whole job search phase. In Malaysia, especially among fresh graduates, I realized that not many people are aware of what they should be looking for when they are accepting any job offers.
Negotiating salaries and asking about benefits are some of the things that I’ve been doing personally since I graduated back in 2017, and it’s interesting to see how potential employers react to it. Perhaps it may not be a norm in Malaysia where people keep on saying “Don’t be so picky, just be grateful that you got a job offer”.
But, personally, I think it’s important to ask about salary and benefit packages, especially since you’ll be spending more than half your time at work. You’ll need to make sure that you are making an informed decision, and that means getting to know exactly what is offered to you and what opportunities and benefits are available for you.
Of course, there are some ‘rules’ around negotiating salaries. Not everyone can do it, as some jobs (like government jobs or management trainee jobs) have a certain salary set to it. But for other jobs (executive or engineer jobs, for example), you may and should be able to negotiate your salary.
And, of course, don’t rush to talk about the salary and benefits until after they’ve offered you the job - that’s when you know they want you enough to offer you that position.
Evaluating a Job Offer. - Silent Confessions
In this above post, I shared a little about the things you could consider when evaluating a job offer, which included ways to research into the salary and how to know if you’re being offered a decent salary. Of course, there is no set rule on what is a ‘decent salary’, so you’ll need to do a lot of research into your industry and see what the market salary is and compare your skills and knowledge with what is required from the job.
You also have to consider a myriad of other factors, such as your monthly expenses and savings, and any potential deductions from your monthly salary (i.e. EPF, income tax and SOCSO). People tend to focus on the gross monthly salary (pre-deductions) and forget that the net monthly salary will be much less (after your EPF/SOCSO and income tax deductions).
It's tricky, but it can be successful if you do it right.
Personally, I’ve tried negotiating my salary three times. The first time I tried it was back in 2017 when I was graduating from my undergraduate studies. I received an offer which was, in my opinion, a little bit too low for me (mainly because my internship paid a lot higher compared to the basic salary that they were offering me), so I tried asking if they would consider increasing their offer.
I had a Skype meeting with one of their HR team, but unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. So I decided to decline their offer (to which my Mum went all “Don’t be too pushy, just take the job and be grateful for the amount that they’re offering.
Less than two months after that, I received another offer from a different company, who offered me a higher salary without me having to negotiate for it. (good things do come to those who wait and believe gitu).
The other two negotiations were in the last two weeks, actually. One was unsuccessful, but the third one ended up in my favor. Although, this time around, I had two offers in my hand, and I used one offer to get the other to increase and match their salary offer (which they did).
10 Myths About Negotiating Your First Salary
It’s a fine line to walk on, but if you do it right, it’d be beneficial for you and your future career. Think about it - your basic salary determines pretty much everything - how much EPF deduction is taken away and put into your retirement savings account, how much bonus you’ll be getting, how much increment/raise you can expect every year, and your new salary when you switch jobs, etc.
Negotiating your salary can be daunting, but it’s important to start preparing and do your research to ensure that you are being paid fairly and compensated well for your job, skills and knowledge.
Have 3 different salary expectations.
One tip that I would recommend trying when you’re applying for jobs is to have three ‘levels’ of salary.
Amount A - the very minimum salary that you’ll accept (i.e. RM2,200).
Amount B - your 'real’ expected salary that you’re looking for (i.e. RM2,500).
Amount C - a high salary amount that is holy grail (i.e. RM3,000).
Of course, these numbers above are arbitrary, but you should not just randomly pick any number. As I mentioned above, do your research into the market average and compare your skills with the job descriptions, etc. You can also ask your friends, family or their connections to see what the typical salary is for a particular industry so that you can better understand the market salary.
When you’re filling up job applications, if possible, never put the lowest amount (i.e. Amount A) on the Expected Salary column. I know that some people have said to put a lower salary so that it’s easier to be called for interviews (as compared to candidates who put higher salaries), but you’re just putting yourself in a bad start for negotiation.
Instead, aim a little higher. I always put down my highest expected salary (Amount C or higher). This might mean that there is less chance of being shortlisted for an interview (because of the high salary expectation). But this also gives me a lot of room for salary negotiation if the company do decide to hire me.
For instance, if you’ve interviewed with a company and they like you enough to offer you the job but can’t meet your Amount C, they may offer you a slightly lower salary. This may either be above or lower than your Amount B. You can then start to negotiate for them to increase it to Amount D, which may be between Amount B and Amount C. If you’ve impressed them enough during the interview, they may be willing to increase the offer and hopefully meet your Amount B or higher, even if it may not reach your Amount C.
Salary negotiations may not always work all the time, especially if you’re a fresh graduate. But there is no harm in trying, because the worst thing that they can do is say no to the negotiation and keep the offer as it is. You can then make the decision to either accept whatever it is that they offered, or look for a different opportunity.
But, whatever it is, make sure that you’ve come prepared. You can’t expect to win an argument without facts, so you can’t expect to win a negotiation without preparation. :)
Wrapping up for now.
In the last issue, I asked you to share with me one goal you’d like to achieve in the new year, and what step(s) you’ll be taking to achieve it. Thank you to those who replied with your answers, I enjoyed reading your responses and wish you guys all the best in achieving your goal(s)!
And to Haleeda Adzhar, congratulations! You’ve won yourself a free 2020 planner and a mystery gift from Huddersfield. Do send me an email with your address so I can mail it to you :)
Alright then, until I see you again in the next issue, take care & stay awesome everyone!
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