AAU Career

Salary negotiation

As a new graduate, negotiating salary can be scary. Especially if you still feel new in Denmark.

However, this indicates the start of your career, so we recommend that you prepare what to answer when your future employer will ask you. And there is plenty of help to get from your trade union if you are member of one.

➡ Here, we will explain to you the Danish system and how salary is usually negotiated in the public and the private sector. We will also look into whe things you can focus on in your negotiation.

How to negotiate your first salary

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    What if my job is in the public sector?

    If you are employed in the public sector, there is some guidelines to go for, and your employer has to follow a certain wage level. A union representative will negotiate on your behalf, and they will advise you on salary scale and potential individual supplements.

    You can find the relevant salary scale at your trade union.

    In the public sector, pension is usually included in your salary.

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    What if my job is in the private sector?

    If you are employed in the private sector, you have to examine whether your employer has collective agreements. Often, small companies do not, while some big companies does. Your trade union has information regaring this.

    You also have to examine if you have to negotiate salary directly with your manager yourself.

    Additionally, you should be aware of the pension – is it included or do your have to cover it yourself?

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    Why is the pension important?

    Even though it seems distant right now, pension is very important, and you should start saving for it when you get your very first job. You’ll thank yourself later!

    Therefore, it is an important part of your salatry negotiation.

    At most public companies, the pension is included in your salary because of the collective agreements.

    However, in some private companies pension is not included. Some major private companies have a collective agreement with a union, which means that pension has been negotiated in advance.

    If pension is not included in your salary, your salary should be correspondingly higher to cover your own payments to a pension scheme.

    Examine the the percentages – what does your employer with, and how much do you need to contribute with yourself? Examine what the industry or company standards are. Your trade union has information about this.

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    What competencies do I have as a new graduate?

    You may not think that you have a lot of results and skills yet that you can use as an argument in your negotiation. But often you do! Go back in time and consider all the things you’ve done. What results did you achieve?

    Think about both your academic, professional and personal competencies and find specific examples of things you have done that are similar to the tasks in this job.

    Think about who you are and how you approach your work, and try to translate this into something the company understands and finds valuable.

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    So, what do I do when I’m negotiating my salary?

    Be prepared that you may already be asked for about salary for the job interview. Consider in advance what your proposal should be.

    No matter if you have to negotiate yourself or not, start by checking up on the salary statistics on your trade union’s website.

    You can also call your union and have a talk about your skills and get some feedback and advice on how to negotiate.

    If your employer offers a salary which is too low compared to the union statistics, you could try to negotiate an agreement stating an increase after a year. You should consider whether you will accept a low salary or not.

    Also, there may be employee benefits that are worth to consider as well – e.g. free gym facilities and private medical insurance.

    A few guidelines for your salary negotiation:

    • Make ambitious but realistic demands
    • Don’t forget pension
    • Use examples from what you have achieved that are relevant in this specific job
    • Select 2-3 arguments that elaborate your competencies
    • Explain, specify and repeat your arguments

    Keep in mind that there are other things to negotiate than just money – e.g. courses and further education, flexible working hours and free phone or internet.

    Don’t forget that even though you do not get the salary you had hoped for, it is never in vain. You have shown your employer who you are and what you can do!

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    Who can I ask for help?

    Your trade union is very experienced in this area.

    Go to their website for statistics and advice, and call them to get feedback and help.

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