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Negotiating Fair Pay: A Fresh Graduate's Guide to Getting the Salary You Deserve

Negotiating for salary can feel uncomfortable, especially when you are just starting your career with limited experience. It's common to question yourself, "What can I even negotiate on as a fresh graduate?" But here's the truth: fair pay is your right, regardless of your experience level. Your skills and experience are valuable, and it's important to know your worth and get the pay you deserve.

It's worth noting that our focus here isn't solely on seeking *high pay*, but rather fair pay which is what you deserve, and that allows you to lead a comfortable life.

In this article, we will explore effective strategies to help you negotiate for fair pay and land the job offer you want.

negotiate salary during interview

Build a strong portfolio with achievements

To negotiate successfully, it's important to show off your achievements and what makes you unique. Think of these as your bullets! Create a portfolio that tells your story and demonstrates your skills and experience through projects, internships, and other experiences. Make sure to include measurable achievements, positive feedback from supervisors, and any certifications or awards you've earned. A well-curated portfolio not only provides concrete proof of your abilities, but also strengthens your position during negotiations and leaves a lasting impression on hiring managers.

Here's what to include in your portfolio:


Show a variety of projects that demonstrate what you can do. For example, if you're applying for a graphic design job, showcase a project where you created a visual identity for a local business. Explain how it helped the business stand out and attract more customers.

Internships and work experience

Highlight internships or part-time jobs where you made an impact and gained valuable skills. For example, if you interned at a software development company, describe how you contributed to launching a new application by developing key features that received positive user feedback. Don't forget to mention any voluntary or extracurricular experiences too!

Positive feedback

Include snippets from recommendation letters or performance evaluations that highlight your strengths and achievements. For example, share a quote from a supervisor who praised your leadership skills and ability to effectively manage and motivate team members during a group project.

Certifications and training

Highlight any certifications or relevant training programs you've completed. For example, if you earned a certification in project management, explain the skills you acquired and how you successfully applied them to complete a challenging project.

Connecting fair pay with your skills

Think of it this way: employers determine how much they pay based on what they believe you're worth. But how do you figure out what's fair? Start by researching industry standards and salary ranges for the job you want. Look up online resources, industry reports, and salary surveys that reveal what fresh graduates or professionals in your field typically earn.

Now, let's shift the focus to your own skills and experiences. Take a moment to consider all the internships, part-time jobs, and projects you've tackled during your studies. Imagine you're a fresh graduate applying for a marketing position, and you discover that entry-level marketing roles typically pay a certain amount.

Here's the exciting part: you've already gained practical experience in digital marketing, content creation, and social media management. In fact, you've achieved some impressive results along the way that goes beyond what's expected of a fresh graduate! You're not just another fresh graduate – you possess a unique combination of skills, qualifications, and practical experience that sets you apart from the crowd. With this knowledge, you can confidently ask for fair pay that recognises the value you bring to the table.

Keep in mind that other factors play a role too, like location, company size, benefits, and growth opportunities. So, when you evaluate salary, take these factors into consideration. By doing thorough research and understanding your own worth, you'll be in a stronger position to advocate for the compensation you truly deserve.

Articulating during the interview

During the interview process, it's important to clearly communicate why you're a great fit for the job. Make sure to highlight relevant skills and achievements, and how they match the company's goals and potential impact. Prepare talking points that showcase your achievements and quantify your contributions whenever possible. This will help you make a strong case for fair compensation.

Here are some examples of what you can say during the interview:

  1. "I noticed that your company values innovation and problem-solving, which aligns perfectly with my skills. In my previous internship, I came up with an idea that reduced production costs by RM10,000. I believe my ability to think outside the box and find efficient solutions would be an asset to your team."

  2. "During my studies, I took on leadership roles that helped me improve my communication and organisational skills. As the president of the student council, I organized a big fundraising event that exceeded our initial goal by 30%. My experience leading a team and keeping everyone motivated can make a real impact on your organization's success.”

  3. "Based on my research, the average salary range for professionals with my level of experience and skills in this industry is between RM3,500 and RM4,500. Considering my skills and the value I can bring to the team, I believe it would be fair to discuss a salary within that range. I'm excited about the opportunity to contribute to the company's growth and believe that fair compensation will further motivate me to deliver exceptional results.”

Additional tips

Stay flexible and respectful

During salary negotiations, it's important to be open to discussion and maintain a respectful tone. Avoid being too pushy or demanding. Remember, it's a conversation where both sides should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and finding common ground.

Look beyond just the salary

Consider the complete compensation package. Besides the salary, companies may offer benefits like healthcare, flexible working hours, or opportunities for professional growth. Keep an open mind and be willing to discuss and negotiate these additional perks that can enhance your overall job satisfaction and work-life balance.

Ask questions to clarify

Ask open-ended questions during the interview to gather more information about the salary structure and other opportunities for growth within the organisation. For example, you could ask, "Can you provide more details about the overall compensation package for this role? Are there opportunities for advancement that can be reflected in the salary?"


Negotiating for fair pay as a fresh graduate can be daunting, but it's important to be prepared, confident, and communicate effectively. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of getting a fair salary and landing the job offer you want.

Remember, fair pay is not just about the money. It's about being valued for your skills and experience. So don't be afraid to ask for what you're worth!

Join us to get high-skilled jobs with fair pay! Sign up on Kabel to look for fresh graduate roles that pay RM3,000 and above in Malaysia.

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