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. :)