In job hunt, UWRF experts advise students not overlook salary negotiation

Posted April 6, 2016

Graduating from UW-River Falls means interviewing and applying for jobs. An aspect of that process which often gets overlooked is salary negotiation.

Future graduates at UWRF have the resources to be prepared to negotiate a salary with a potential employer, but those services at Career Services may go unnoticed by students. Kaitlyn MacKinnon, a communication studies major who is set to graduate in May, is among students who have been looking for a job. She said she wishes that she had learned how to negotiate a salary earlier during her senior year.

“I probably could have negotiated a salary, but I didn’t know how to, and I was in this mentality that I should just take whatever they offer me because no one else is going to want to hire me,” MacKinnon said. “I’m fresh out of college and I do not have experience.”

MacKinnon and other millennials are becoming the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce, according to the Staples Advantage Workplace Index. The index also found that salary is just as important to millennials as it is to their older counterparts.

The emphasis placed on a salary begins when millennials are still in college. Melissa Wilson, director of Career Services, said that students use the resources of her office at the last minute.

“When we work with students on the salary negotiation process, many times it is when they need it,” Wilson said. “We’ll get a phone call from a student asking for help to negotiate a salary for an interview the next day.”

Career Services is flexible about setting up a time to talk about salary negotiation, but Wilson said she notices an uptick in meetings during the Career Fair and at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Other than meeting with Wilson or Assistant Director McKenna Pfeiffer, students have one opportunities to learn about salary negotiation.

The Salary Negotiation Workshop was scheduled Wednesday on campus. The seminar focused on developing a personal budget, negotiating an initial salary out of college, and accepting or declining a job offer.

One website that Wilson sends students to is

“It is a free resource that students can utilize and they can find that starting, median, and ending salary that somebody might have as a sales professional in the Twin Cities area,” Wilson said.

Another tool that students have at their disposal is GlassDoor, where employees at big companies can anonymously post their salary so others can get a feel for the job market.

Employers often ask candidates to state a required salary because they want to make sure potential employees are realistic and not overconfident about the salary expectation, according to Wilson.

“Believe it or not, there are some college graduates who are not realistic about what their starting pay will be,” Wilson said.

The ultimate goal of salary negotiation, according to Wilson, is to get the employer to reveal the initial salary amount. That is the art of salary negotiation.