Entry Level Salary: How To Find Out What You Can Earn


Hardly any other situation is fraught with more uncertainty than entering the job. Because now it’s about the first step into the professional future – and thus about the activity with which we will spend a significant part of our time. And because that is so, it should go hand in hand with a decent reward. Only: how much money am I actually worth?

Thinking in terms of salaries is unfamiliar. “In a study from 2019 we found out that every second person feels uncomfortable asking their employer about a higher salary,” says Celine Melo Cristino, recruiter at the StepStone job platform, which, like, belongs to Axel Springer Verlag.

Overcoming discomfort takes some practice – and the right questions. What is my goal, where do I want to go professionally? And that applies of course and especially in times of crisis. The uncertainty in these times is great. However, it should not hold up young professionals unnecessarily.

Determine your worth and stand by it – even in a crisis

“What I want? That can also mean: Do I want to achieve a position of responsibility one day? ”Says Claudia Kimich, trainer and coach who has been advising professionals, graduates and students at universities on negotiation issues for years. “The plans don’t have to be set in stone for 10 years. But strategic considerations provide information. Where do I want to be in two years? In five? If you only compare numbers and carefully ask yourself what ‘one’ can ask for, in case of doubt, you get into the job with lower pay. ”The anger afterwards is often great.

“Take a closer look at the industry of choice. “Ask yourself: Would I like to work in a job that is currently looking for a lot of people?” Says Melo Cristino. “What experiences do I have that are useful for the advertised position?” This can be job experience from part-time or student jobs, but also internships and voluntary activities.

“The more you have qualifications and relevant experience, the more you can ask for a salary,” says Ragnhild Struss, owner of the Struss & Claussen career counseling in Hamburg. “What is essential for this is a strong sense of self-worth, that is, a secure awareness of one’s own worth in relation to one’s own abilities and skills. Those who do not have this often allow themselves to be fobbed off with too little salary, because inside they have the feeling that they may not even ‘earn’ anymore. “

“Set a lower salary limit as a pain threshold”

The second look is at the potential job and the entry-level industry. “Online portals such as kununu, or the career bible provide insights into the salaries usually paid in a particular profession,” says Struss. “It is also worth comparing salaries in different industries, between average salaries and top earners or between entry-level salaries and those of people with professional experience. The data is usually obtained by interviewing many people, so it is based on a large population and is therefore representative. ”When assessing its realistic market value, it is usually good to use an average of the possible salary range.

“Set an absolute lower limit of the salary as a pain threshold,” advises Claudia Kimich. “What salary are you not getting under? What would be the next level that you would be okay with? And finally: what is your dream salary? At what number do you hang jubilantly under the chandelier for three days? ”Each of the steps has an authorization. “You should only go below the pain threshold with very, very good reason – for example, if it is the absolute dream job or the way to work is only two minutes. But even then things should go up after the probationary period or there should be a step-by-step plan. “

“Maintain your profiles in the digital professional networks”

The third starting point: discussions in your own network, with parents, friends, relatives. “You can also ask acquaintances or friends of friends,” says Claudia Kimich. “Is there anyone who works in a position like yours envisaged who could give you information? Be brave, you ask. Everyone knows everyone through six corners. That is why it is smart, instead of just asking your ‘inner circle’, to also think ‘out of the box’. “

Digital professional networks such as LinkedIn or Xing also help. Meaningful profiles are a door opener, says Kimich. “Maintain this and show everything that you can offer companies in terms of ‘benefits’ here.” It can pave the way: Perhaps you can find a friend or a former colleague there who has contacts who can help me further? Posts and news in the networks also often provide information on people who may be able to advise young professionals.

“In Sweden every citizen can inquire about other people’s salaries”

“The fact that money is still a taboo subject in Germany is primarily due to culture,” says Celine Melo Cristino. “Even as a child we often heard the phrase ‘You don’t talk about money’. It gets stuck – and often runs through life. ”That is not the case in other countries, says Melo Ciristino. The Swedes, for example, are much more open about money. “Every citizen can officially inquire about the salary of other people here – and receives the information from the state.”

The German lack of transparency has many disadvantages. “Among other things, it prevents applicants and employers from meeting at eye level,” says Melo Cristino. Your company wants to change that. “Because fair salaries only exist if they are handled transparently.” From March 10th, will publish salary ranges on job advertisements. A first step.

“Talking about money is like learning a foreign language”

Beginners can always realize that not only money at work shows appreciation. “A lot of vacation days or grants for further training and travel expenses can add value to a mediocre salary,” says Ragnhild Struss. Here, too, you can start the negotiation. “For some people, a very good work-life balance or the possibility of constant development is more important for their own satisfaction than maximizing the monetary value on the pay slip.”

Claudia Kimich recommends that young professionals practice applying. Applying for positions that you don’t really like brings you experience with your own market value. Not only that: you learn to talk about money. Claudia Kimich compares this to learning a foreign language: “The more often you do it, the sooner you get used to it. And you even feel very good instead of small. ”


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