Negotiating Salary and Benefits

As a recent graduate, you're probably just so happy to be offered a job that the thought of negotiating a salary never crosses your mind.

Keep reading to see what you can expect from your first job offer and what areas are negotiable.


Know the salary range for the position, which can vary depending on where you live. Check out your industry's professional associations or the Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) website to find up-to-date salary information (see link below). The HRDC website gives an idea of what people are paid in various occupations across Canada, but wage information may not be available for all occupations in all geographical areas. Many online job boards also include information on negotiating salary and benefits.

Determine where you fit in the appropriate professional range based on your skills and abilities.

Just because you are young and new to the job market, doesn't mean you have to settle right away. If you choose to accept a position for less than the market rate, ask about including a salary review in your contract 6 to 12 months after you start work.

Benefit basics

Benefits are standard for many full-time positions and can really sweeten a job offer. Below are the building blocks for most benefit programs.

Some typical benefits include:

  • medical (prescriptions, physiotherapy, hospital expenses, etc.)
  • dental
  • vision
  • life insurance
  • vacation
  • retirement / pension plans

Some companies even have flexible plans -- "cafeteria-style" benefits -- that allow you to select the level of coverage or benefits that work best for you.

Beyond Basics

There are many creative and flexible options that companies often offer to attract and retain promising young people. Some benefits to consider that affect your work environment include:

  • flextime
  • job sharing
  • casual dress
  • in-house fitness centre or club memberships
  • tuition reimbursement
  • counselling services
  • bonuses
  • stock options

Don't be afraid to suggest lifestyle-enhancing benefits that your future employer may not have considered.

You have a tremendous amount to offer an employer so be confident but also realistic in your expectations.

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