Young woman at job interview
Dabl At Home Dec 2020
Presented By
Dabl at Home

Recent Grads Are Underestimating Their Worth

According to a recent survey, college grads are underestimating what their starting salaries should be by $10,000.

Published 07/14/2022

In March of this year, soon-to-be college grads were feeling super optimistic about entering the job market. In fact, a study conducted by Real Estate Witch found that college students were overestimating what the salaries for their first jobs should be by up to $50,000. But something has shifted in the last couple of months. According to a more recent survey from ZipRecruiter, members of the class of 2022 are now underestimating their worth by $10,000 in salary negotiations. 

So, what’s the cause of this sudden change in thought? Unfortunately, it’s unclear. Maybe it’s the fear of the looming recession and possible layoffs that could come with it. Alternatively, young professionals might be feeling less confident now that breaking into the workforce isn’t a task for after graduation still in the distant future. Either way, it’s clear that one question needs to be answered: How do college grads — or anyone looking for a new job — determine their worth? 

The answer to what constitutes a fair salary can vary based on years of experience, the industry you’re in, what the job entails, and the cost of living in your area. But we do have a couple of tips to help make sure you know your worth and are getting a fair offer from your next potential employer. First and foremost, do your research before entering into a conversation about your compensation. Make sure you understand the salary ranges in your given field. You can often find market data, as well as salary data specific to your prospective employer, on websites like Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Payscale, and These sources will give you a ballpark of what constitutes a fair salary for your role in your chosen industry, as well as insights into what other employees at your prospective company make for similar positions. 

Second, make sure to advocate for yourself while talking through salaries with the hiring manager. It’s pretty common for companies to ask candidates what they expect or want to be paid if they are hired. In some cases, what a candidate is willing (and even happy) to take may be less than what the company is willing to pay. Therefore, we suggest you turn the question back to your potential employer before you answer. Ask what the budget is for the role for which you are interviewing before you name your price. Depending on what they say, you may be able to ask for a higher salary. But if you don’t ask, you might end up leaving money on the table. 

Especially for young professionals, negotiating salaries can be nerve-wracking. Lack of experience and gratefulness for scoring that first job offer sometimes results in young adults not negotiating as much as they should, or at all. However, know that negotiating for a higher salary is a common part of the offer process. Most employers expect it, and will usually leave wiggle room in the salary they initially offer you to account for this. 

If you can’t negotiate for a higher salary, you may also be able to ask for improved benefits, such as more vacation time or the ability to work from home, which brings us to another point. When evaluating your offer, you need to consider benefits as well. For example, does your company offer medical insurance and what would your monthly contribution be? Is there a 401K to help you save for retirement? If certain benefits aren’t offered, your paycheck might not stretch as far. Just watch how much one employee struggled on “Undercover Boss” because her role didn’t come with medical benefits or a 401K in the clip below. 

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After talking with his employee, this boss made her position full-time and gave her benefits immediately. Despite the expense it created, the boss was also inspired to reinstate the 401K program for everyone in the company. As a mother with children to care for, these benefits were life-changing for this employee. This clip is a great reminder to not just look at salary, but to also consider how the benefits package as a whole will impact your life and your family. 

Ultimately, it’s important to know your worth when it’s time to look for a new job. It’s important for job seekers to know whether their offer is fair or not. Additionally, no one wants to undersell themselves or have unrealistic expectations when entering a negotiation. But by doing your research in advance and staying polite and respectful, you’ll only set yourself up for professional and personal success at your new job! 

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