How to negotiate your first salary

Salary negotiations when you've only just graduated? Not an easy task, since you won't have any experience to go on. And you're probably keen to get started with your first job as soon as possible. So how can you still secure a nice salary? Read all about it here.

Know your worth


Just graduated? Remember you have a lot of administrative things to do. Read our five most important things to know here.

Think about fringe benefits

The wages going into your bank account are obviously your main consideration. But make sure you look beyond your wage when you’re negotiating the salary for your new job. According to Jobat, in our country employees enjoy an average of six fringe benefits.

Bear these most common ones in mind:

  • Meal vouchers. These are usually non-negotiable, because this benefit is mandated through a collective labour agreement. If the company has its own canteen, it doesn’t have to provide meal vouchers.
  • End of year bonus. Some companies give their employees a little bonus at the end of the year, or a ‘thirteenth month pay’. Just remember that these are also subject to tax and social security deductions, since your bonus is legally part of your wage. 
  • Hospitalisation insurance. If you incur medical costs that are not covered by your medical insurance, this fringe benefit will mean you don’t have to worry about it.

If flexible working hours or holidays are important to you, or if you want to take time for further education, make sure to bring this up during your salary negotiations.

Talk salary at the right time

Keep these three rules in mind:

  • Don’t discuss the salary until the end of the application process. Once the other party confirms they want you to work for them, that’s when negotiations can start. If they ask about your requirements earlier, try to defer the conversation.
  • Always negotiate gross salary. Talking about the net amount that lands in your bank account is not the done thing and appears unprofessional. The amount of your salary that remains after tax depends on your situation, so it’s best to calculate your net salary at home following the negotiation.
  • Let your potential new employer name a figure first. This will set you up for the best negotiation. 


If a recruiter asks you how much you’d like to earn, you can reply that the company will probably have a ballpark salary in mind and that you’d like to hear this from them first. Or you can tell the recruiter that they are probably best placed to know what the average salary at the company is.

Open your ING Lion Account current account

Looking for your first job? This is the perfect time to get a head start on some admin and consider which bank account you want to have your wages paid into.