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How Much Can You Negotiate Before Accepting Your First Job Offer?

You probably have more bargaining power than you think. Here’s how to use it wisely.

How Much Can You Negotiate Before Accepting Your First Job Offer?
[Photo: Flickr user Pictures of Money]

The good news: You have more bargaining power than you think. According to a recent survey by NerdWallet and Looksharp, 84% of responsive companies said that negotiating salary wasn’t a deal breaker, even for entry-level candidates.

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And yet, out of almost 8,000 college graduates surveyed, only 38% actually ventured to do some healthy back-and-forth before signing their name in ink. The main question boils down to the negotiation sweet spot—what’s reasonable to ask for, and makes you sound (dare we say it) entitled? To help you get the best offer possible, here’s what you can—and should—ask for before you officially take that first job.

1. Base Salary

Asking for more money won’t hurt your chances of getting hired, as long as you’re being realistic, advises Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru, a Seattle-based company that provides career training and coaching to recent college grads. This means that you should work the percentages before throwing out a number. She explains that “a typical yearly increase is between two and three percent, and promotions typically are usually between eight and 12 percent,” so asking for $60,000 when you were offered $50,000—a 20 percent increase!—is likely asking too much.

2. Moving/Signing Bonus

If taking this job means moving to a new city and you haven’t been offered a moving allowance or signing bonus, Hamilton says it’s worth asking for one of them. If anything, feel out your employer to see if they can cover a moving company to pack up and relocate your stuff.

3. Job-Related Resources

According to Margaret Neale, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, an expense account for gas, certain travel expenses, and even the quality of your tech support are negotiable resources that are often overlooked. And since they’re smaller perks, the odds may be greater that you get what you want.

4. Your Benefits Package

When you receive your offer, don’t overlook the health insurance package. While it’s fairly standard to receive health care for yourself, you can consider negotiating coverage for your spouse, or for eye and dental coverage if that’s not automatically included.

5. Education Budget

Melissa Suzuno, writing at AfterCollege.com, says another negotiation point could be a stipend for continuing education. A number of companies offer employees the opportunity to take courses and get certifications pertaining to their industry or overall career path. Doing this can help you do your job better and help you expand your knowledge for your entire career, making it a win-win for you and your employer.

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This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.