How to Negotiate a Higher Salary Even Without Work Experience

Money Smart | By Ryan Ong -Wed, 26 Dec 2012

There’s no need for fancy introductions here. I’ll come straight to the point: You can get paid more, even without work experience. That’s what the tips in this article are for. Here, dear MoneySmart reader, I will man you up, give you the confidence to demand your worth, and win you that dream job. Experience irrelevant. In fact, some blind kid read this last week, and now he’s the highest paid sniper in the US Army. I can’t possibly make that up, so read on:

 

Job Interview

Work experience? Well, school sure seemed like a lot of work…

 

Salaries are Arbitrary

Salaries come on a sliding scale. Even for an entry level job, for example, you can see something like “between $1,400 to $1,700″, or “Salary negotiable, $3,000 and up”.

Which leads me to ask: What justifies the difference of those few hundred dollars? Why do two people at an entry level job sometimes have salaries that are $500 or more apart?

Here’s an e-mail response from Marcus Chun, who has been a hiring manager for eight years:

It depends on the beliefs of the prospective employer. Some employers cherish work experience, and some don’t care too much for it.

In some jobs, for example sales, you can have worked in sales for 10 years, but still be a lousier salesman than a talented youngster. If the hirer is aware of this, he will be looking for your charm and intelligence during the interview, not so much your work history.”

And this opens the avenue for pay negotiations?

Yes. There are ways to impress an interviewer that could put a candidate on the high-end of the pay scale. This can happen regardless of your current work experience.”

Some methods Marcus shared with me are:

  • Posit Immediate Solutions
  • Be a Trainee
  • Merit By Association
  • Demonstrate That You Cover Your Costs

 

1. Posit Immediate Solutions

Rube Goldberg device

And then the ball hits the plate, which causes the spoon to lift and…are you listening?

 

Most newbies, when asked to present their closest thing to experience, will pull out awards they won in school. Or extra credit activities.

Now look, I’m glad you took a week to build mud huts in poverty stricken Koana or wherever. It moves me, it really does. But the hirer isn’t going to pay you more for being a great humanitarian or a boy scout. If you want higher pay, replace those abstract credentials with immediate, applicable solutions for the employer.

Find out what problems the company is facing. Ask what they need,” Marcus suggests, “Then draw up a solution for them. If need be, say ‘let me get draw up a more complete solution for this, and I’ll e-mail to you by tomorrow morning.’

If you can impress them that way, you can ask for higher pay. They might choose to overlook the experience issue, as it’s obvious you can do the job well.”

 

2. Be a Trainee

Police man with V sign

Don’t worry, I’m motivated. I’m on half pay till I solve my first actual crime.

 

“Sometimes you just have to start from the bottom,” Marcus says, “but you can determine a set point for a pay bump. For example, you can agree to be a trainee for a lower income initially. But the agreement is that, within three to six months, if your performance is acceptable, the company will take you on at a set pay. And that set pay is on the higher end.”

Marcus mentions that most SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) have no problems bumping a trainee’s eventual pay to the higher-end of the scale. This is because they’d rather someone they’ve gotten to know, and it lessens their commitment. After all, if they decide not to hire you at the planned pay range, they can drop you before the time comes.

But don’t bother trying this with big companies,” Marcus says, “If a big company wants a trainee, they will get a trainee. They don’t need you to offer.”

Marcus also warns against less scrupulous companies, which might take advantage of you for cheap labour. “At most six months, that’s it,” he says.

 

3. Merit By Association

Google office

Check out my paper bag. Am I getting that head developer job or what?

 

There’s a joke that if you worked in Google you can always get higher pay,” Marcus says, “Even if you worked there for less than a year, and you managed their broom closet.

Of course that’s just a joke. But if you’ve interned or worked in a prestigious company, however briefly, you have their brand name behind you.

Mention that, in your time there, some of that company’s culture and methods rubbed off on you. Say how you were impressed by this or that specific process, and go into details. This might convince the hirer that you can bring in something of value.”

Of course, not everyone has the advantage of an internship in a big name company. Which is really why you should have done that in University, instead of joining 25 Unreal tournaments.

For alternative means of building the right associations, follow us on Facebook. We’ll be giving you a primer on that soon.

 

4. Demonstrate That You Cover Your Costs

Calculator

Actually, we’re calculating the number of YEARS it would take for you to pay for yourself…

 

“Not enough people bring spreadsheets to a job interview,” Marcus says, “That’s really a pity, because it’s a good way to convince me, or whoever your hirer is, to pay more.”

The point of the spreadsheet is to show how much revenue you’ll bring. This is then contrasted against your wages, to show that you’ll more than cover your salary.

So say you’re asking for $3,500, which is actually $500 beyond the company’s budget. But if your previous sales projections show you bring in $6,000 a month, that extra $500 more than compensates for your higher pay.

The best part is, you can do this even without a previous sales record.

If you have the confidence to face me, and tell me you can generate twice your income,” Marcus says, “You’re setting a high standard for yourself.

I’d be skeptical, sure. And believe me, it will come up at a review. But between writing that promise down on a spreadsheet, and just saying ‘Oh I am a very hard worker’, which do you think is more convincing? If you want to be paid more, this is one more step to justify it.”

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