Negotiation Tips for Your First Job.

Graduates in Nigeria and all over the world wants something to associate with, so they seek employment opportunities, as a result, increase in urban-migration is recorded. Failure to get something as expected would generates a large amount of emotions, worries and expectations. Since it will affect both your present life and your future career. This is why it’s important to find a job that suits your education and personality.

Getting your first job in Nigeria, is quite a rite of passage, it’s the same for many young people living in the modern world. The stress you go through in the process of landing the first job is tedious especially if you’re from an average or poor class according to the social societal construct. Along that path, one of the crucial things is to learn how to negotiate a fair working condition and salary for your first job. The following steps will help with what features to take care of and how to approach the negotiation process.

1. Know your worth in Gold

Limited experience is the major argument most employers present or employ to beat you at the negotiation table. When applying for your first job, naturally, some employers will try to use that argument as a reason to offer a ridiculous salary that’s lower than it should be. Lines like “We would still have to train you to function well at your job” or “You won’t be productive for a start, because you have to learn on the job”. Others set of employees believe they’re doing you a favour by paying you at the end of the month, not realizing how they get your time, commitment, dedication and loyalty in return.


If you come across such an employer, but you believe the job in question would be a suitable choice for growth in an entry level position, don’t succumb too easily. Do shakara, it’s allowed! It shows you’re assertive, such attitude will convince your potential employer that you’re a fighter, a trait that could benefit their company.

Apart from your university degree, your job application should include all the certificates you’ve acquired during your education. From IT courses to language certificates, business diplomas and even volunteering experiences. Appreciate your degree and knowledge, prepare everything that’s relevant for that position to back you up and boost your worth.

2. Research average salaries in your field

Before you even get your first invitation for a job interview, kindly research on the salaries in your field. A few search queries on Google will help you figure out how much are being paid in various fields. However, you shouldn’t stop here, because you need to obtain as much information as possible. It will enable you to make a more detailed plan for the salary negotiations at your interviews.

It is shameful how difficult it is to find valuable data pertaining to wage/salary estimate in Nigeria, the Ministry of Labour do not even have a functional website with statistics. Our culture also prevent people from disclosing their salaries.

For now, you can access a large amount of useful data about few companies in Nigeria on and Additionally, you can source for information about the work condition of your potential workplace from friends and relatives. Also, harness the potentials of numerous social media groups related to the niche of your interest and read about other people’s experiences.

3. Review your monthly budget

I know, and have heard about some folks whose transport expenses in a month gulp a huge percentage of their monthly pay, leaving them with little or nothing. They can’t quit, because the economy is bad, and nothing else is guaranteed. “Employers have the final say on the payment you would receive” Nevertheless, you have some room in the negotiations that you can use to raise the stakes. Remember, “Most employers would like to pay you less than is required”. What you need to do before your first interview is to calculate your monthly expenses. This calculation needs to contain your rent, the bills (recharge, cable, electricity, waste management, and lots more.) the food budget, your transportation expenses and the clothes. Of course, some folks still live with their parents, relatives or guardian, so if the pay foots your bills, you should accept the offer. Lastly, endeavor to base your calculations on mid-range prices.

Finally, add your personal living expenses, such as culture-related expenditure; siblings requesting for assistance, travels and your hobbies to your monthly budget. You should include all the expenses you’ll have in order to lead a fulfilled life, so try to negotiate a salary that’s as close to that figure as possible.

4. Ask questions about the work conditions

Do you know why it is advised to always ask questions during and after interviews? This would give you an insight into how organizations are structured, so as to help you perform well. The salary and the work conditions at your new position are two closely related features. They are forms of motivation, an incentive which encourage you to perform to the best of your abilities.

Get to know about their employment relations, the policies, programmes, and practices which govern the relationship between employees and employers. Go over your job description and specifications, so as to know what your job entails. And request that all of it be stated clearly in your contract or employment letter, so that they don’t reassign tasks during layoffs instead of re-staffing, or you working overtime. You can ask for flexible work hours if you’re a part-time worker. Additionally, take care of other, non-salary features during this process, ask about past employees, or those who advanced from your position, this would give a hint on career advancement. For instance, the former and current employees of the company in question may express dissatisfaction with bad leadership in social media discussions. If so, think twice before you attend the next interview phase, and save your time and strength for other opportunities.

Also inquire about the work organization or business management style of your potential employers. They are part of major questions you should ask during an interview. If their business is based on part-time workers or outsourced workforce (a new trend in Nigeria). You might find it difficult to negotiate the salary you’re aiming at. However, such a work environment would bring some benefits, as everything isn’t about monetary reward.

5. Keep several offers on the table

The position in which you’re looking for your first job brings both some benefits and some drawbacks. The main drawback is that you don’t have an income, but you have regular expenses you have to cope with. The biggest advantage of that situation is that you have nothing to lose. Therefore, make an effort to negotiate the salary you deserve, due to your education and the payments in your niche.

You’ll manage to successfully pursue this strategy if you weigh several job offer. By entering job negotiations with several employers at the same time, you’ll get a chance to play your cards in a clever and decisive way. (This would only occur if you’re a pro or an expert at what you do.)

However, as a beginner, don’t ever mention the other offers when going for job interviews, until you get several final payment offers. (First class graduates should beware of this.) That’s the key moment at which you can mention what others have offered you. For instance, if the employer you prefer most, because their work conditions and potentials suits you best turn up with a lower pay, you can inform them about the higher offers you’ve received. It might bring you the desired job and the salary you’ve been dreaming of.

Note: Be careful and polite in every step you make during these negotiations, not to burn bridges before you have the chance to build them.


Your first job will be the pivotal point in your life that might influence your entire career. Because of that, it’s important to be patient during the job search. In line with that, apply for several positions and always insist on your degree, as well as on your comprehensive knowledge.

However, don’t turn the entire negotiation into a rambling process, but rather find a way to let your potential employers know how you can contribute to their business. If you follow all these strategies, you’re highly likely to find a promising first job with a fair salary.