Negotiating Salary as an Entry Level Employee - Work in Sports e078

The dreaded salary negotiation question is here. We dive into how you should approach your salary negotiation even as an entry level candidate. Listen in!

Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the work in sports podcast.

We’re closing out the month of April and I think April is an underrated sports month. The draft, the NBA playoffs, the Stanley Cup finals, baseball is getting into a groove – I love having options.Your Sports Career Questions Answered

I was sitting around watching the draft, couple of cold beers in the fridge (yes I am a beer snob) and swinging between NBA games, NHL games…and a little bit of Thor: Dark World…all in all a very good time.

Since I’m pretty NFL addicted, I signed up for a few new podcasts this weekend – started off with Pro Football Talk PM. Now I like the pro football talk site, even though it is basically an aggregator, they don’t really report anything, they take the hard work of other reporters and repurpose the content, but I get all the news in one spot and then go to the original story link when I need or want more detail.

Have to say, I was really annoyed with the podcast.

Mike Florio must have mentioned hashtag PFT posse about 20 times in the first 5 minutes, and then talked about his marathon running and favorite movies. Why not just call it the Mike Florio getting to know you hour?

I don’t know, kind of bored and bothered me. Self-indulgent.

Then again, he’s a millionaire and I’m a thousandaire so maybe I need to be more self-promotional and tell you what I had for breakfast and share my top ten albums of all-time.

Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet would be high on that list btw.

So if anyone has any good podcast recommendations – I’m talking sports, true crime, history, biography, science – I’m up for it. I love good content. So share. Go on to our private facebook group and tell me your favorite podcasts. I need some new stuff on the dial, and I cant listen to myself. It’s weird.

Before I jump into today’s question from Hannah Carson – I have a success story from fan of the podcast and member of our private facebook group Carson Mason.


I wanted to let you know I have accepted a New Media internship with the Pittsburgh Penguins for this summer! 

I want to thank you for your counsel and guidance in my summer internship search. I did a Skype interview for this internship and listened to your podcast on video interviews the night before. The podcast helped calm my nerves and made me more confident for the interview. I have learned so much about the sports industry and job process from your podcast episodes and cannot thank you enough.

Thanks again for your help and for keeping up the awesome podcast.

I’ll take a moment to be self-indulgent here – you guys probably notice there are no ads on this show. We at work in aren’t using this platform to generate revenue, I’m not saying we never will, but that wasn’t the plan with this concept.

We wanted to help. We wanted to share information that can drive you further in your career – we wanted to help you be successful. It is working. I’m getting emails like this 2-3 times pper week and it gives all of us at great joy and satisfaction.

Good luck Carson – and thank you. You made my day.

Now let’s switch Carson’s and go to today’s question from Hannah Carson, a student at Xavier University who is jumping into the entry level job market and wants to know about salary negotiation:



My question is related to asking those awkward questions relating to salary. As someone who is entering the full-time job search, it's a tough situation. For years, I've worked internships and graduate assistantships just to gain experience, regardless of what I got paid. I'm at the part in my life now where that is simply impossible to do anymore. I've seen a lot of job descriptions that ask you to list your salary expectations and I don't want to ask for too much for an entry-level position, but also don't want to undervalue myself or leave money on the table. What is your advice on finding a balance between the two, or how to approach that topic with potential employers? 

I hate salary questions, but they are so important. Talking salary feels so personal, but again this is one of the foundational aspects of job seeking and career building so we have to talk about it.

There are two things in play here – there is a face-to-face negotiation and there is an application.

I’ve noticed more and more applications ask you to declare a requested salary and I think this was done to have people self-censor themselves, or to throttle their desires. They are playing with your mind!

Think about it, you see that blank space and the first thing you think is – “I don’t want to say too high or else they won’t consider me” Right? We all do it, we all think we’ll be kicked out from consideration if we don’t undervalue our worth.

But that is backward. You need to value yourself along your skillset and value to a team.

You must value yourself correctly…and then add 5%.

So how do you value yourself? Well there are sites out there that give salary information, but it tends to be generic and not all that helpful I don’t think. I remember looking to these sites when I was hiring an anchor once, wanting to see how we’d compare to other large markets, this is when I was in seattle, and immediately thinking….these numbers are way too low.

The best way to find accurate data it to find out from people out there. If you are in college you have the ultimate research guide – your career services department. They will be able to give you a list of recent graduates out in the workforce who are your most applicable source for salary information.

If you graduate from a sports management program, you better believe they have a bank of alumni who also graduated from your program and got jobs. Get a range from them.

Now this is important – you don’t want to ask someone – so how much do you make? You ask them – do you think 35,000 is a good starting wage or is that too low? You put it to them as a yes/no question and it is much more comfortable for them to answer.

No that is too low – yes that seems in range.

Once you get an idea on a range – add 5%. Not a crazy bump, not adding 25%, but a slight bump from what recent alumni were making is a totally reasonable cost of living + my value is high assumption.

That is how you fill out the blank on your application. Do some legwork first.

Now, as for in face negotiations.

We still all go at this very timidly – we think we have no leverage because we’re entry level and we need a job. Of course it helps if you have multiple offers, you can then negotiate and know you have a backup plan if it blows up… but if you don’t you still have leverage.

We had a question come up on our private facebook group a month or so ago, someone was being flown in for a final interview and wanted some advice and I told them, if you are being brought in, especially flown in, for face to face – they;’ve determined you have the skills they need, you passed the personality test on the phone.. it’s your job to lose, just don’t screw it up.

The point here is – you have more leverage than you think. Hiring is also stressful, hiring is also hard, you’re looking through resumes for hours, interviewing on the phone, doing other background checks, checking references…. You think someone wants to start that process over because a qualified, vetted candidate asks for 5% over my initial offer? Hell no.

By the time you get face-to-face with a potential employer they are already very invested in you – yuou have leverage too. Just don’t be crazy. Do your research into the right salary range, bump it up a little from there and say it with confidence.

I think that covers Hannah’s question but I think we have a lot more to talk about in regards to salar and negotiation, so expect some more content coming up in that regard.

This Wednesday Deandra Duggans Manager of Advertising and branding with the Baltimore Ravens – it is an awesome interview, excited to publish it!


By Brian Clapp | April 30, 2018
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