writing Starting your first job is exciting. But it can also be daunting. There are a number of things you need to keep in mind, including the possibility of having to negotiate your first salary. The first salary you earn is important because the rest of the money you earn in your life will be based off that salary. Since each increase is based off a previous salary, it is your first salary – the starting point – which truly defines the trajectory of your future financial success. “You should try to negotiate your salary for a few reasons,” says Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich. “The first is that a single $5,000 raise in your 20s, if you properly invest it, can be worth more than a million over the course of your career.  And that’s just one raise. People who negotiate tend to negotiate over and over again.” Research has found that top performers negotiate and average graduates don't. That means you should negotiate your salary to send a message to your potential employer that you value yourself and your skills. Know what you could expect to be paid When you do ask for more money, it’s important you're able to back it up with clear reasons for why you deserve more. You need to demonstrate that you have the skills and qualification which your prospective employer needs. You need to be able to have this information ready at the interview. You should know what the average salary expectations are for this type of role. You also need to be sure of the challenges which your potential employer faces and demonstrate how you can assist in solving these problems. Find out about extras and perks When you’re negotiating your salary, be sure to think about additions to the salary package. Retirement or pension funds, medical aid, flexible working hours, more days off and working from home are all options which could possibly be discussed. It’s important that you find out what the employer is willing to contribute to a retirement fund and what you’ll be expected to contribute. In addition, now is the time to find out whether the medical aid, if one is offered, is full medical or day-to-day cover. When you shouldn’t negotiate Of course there are times when it’s just not appropriate to negotiate. These include instances when the salary is structured and predetermined according to salary scales. Another is when you’re one of many similarly skilled applicants. An example of this could be a beginner barista or unskilled waitron. It is after all an employers’ market. The majority of young graduates remain unemployed for a number of months before securing a first job. If your negotiating might affect your chances of being employed, rather get your foot in the door. Know what you’re willing to accept and what you aren’t. In that way, you’ll know when it’s time to walk away and when you should continue with the talks.