Job Interview Tips

9 Huge Mistakes You’re Making When Negotiating Salary

Written by Peter Jones

You might think landing a job is most of the battle. But don’t forget, over the course of negotiations—and indeed your whole career—there are a few mistakes you can make that will stick you with a low salary, and sometimes for a lot longer than you might expect.

So when you’re negotiating a new offer, remember not to fall victim to any of the following mistakes, and make sure you set yourself up to earn as much as you are worth!

1. Not Negotiating

Perhaps the worst negotiation mistake you can make is not to negotiate at all. Don’t just accept whatever offer you receive. You’ll be settling for less—even than they would expect to end up paying you. This can have immediate and long-term impact on your finances. Figure out your work before you get an offer. Then negotiate. It’s standard practice and will be expected of you, no matter whether or not you hate the process.

2. Not Providing a Range

Take your total salary, plus perks, from three years ago, versus your total salary today, plus perks, and you have a range! Then visit a site like Glassdoor or Payscale to figure out what other professionals in your desired position are making. If you have the experience and skill set to justify being compensated at their level, then you can extend your range a little higher than your current compensation. But be prepared to show why you deserve this.

3. Winging It

You will not be in a strong position to negotiate salary if you’ve half-assed your resume and the interview process. Make sure there’s a solid paper trail documenting your strengths and talents, showing how competitive a candidate you are, and also make sure you’ve made a solid and impressive first impression. This will net you a higher first offer, and also give you more leeway to negotiate even higher. Remember: the negotiation process is more about your value being rewarded than it is about your need or greed.

4. Negotiating Too Soon

The moment you get the offer is not the time to counter. Get all the details about your compensation—including non-salary benefits, PTO, etc. Then sit on it for a while. Thank them, politely ask for a day or two to review the details, and then get back to them with a respectful, reasonable counter.

5. Revealing Your Bottom Line

Don’t give hirers the upper hand by letting them know the number you would take to accept the job and end negotiations. They may very well offer you just that—and then where would you be? It would be impossible for you to negotiate up from there.

6. Not Doing Your Homework

You can’t make claims about industry standards or your value in the market if you haven’t done thorough research. Don’t get caught out saying something that won’t smell right to professionals in your industry. In other words: don’t fake anything. Be prepared to back all things up with hard fact—including your own skill and experience.

7. Flubbing the Counter

You get to the negotiation phase—either over email, phone, or in person—and you thank them for their generous offer, then make your counter, ending with a number or range that would be more acceptable to you. STOP THERE. Don’t keep blabbing on. Leave the ball in their court, then take it from there depending on what you get for a response. Remember not to ask for wildly too much—that can get you laughed right out of the running. And don’t forget you can also negotiate non-salaried perks. Don’t leave the table until you feel really excited and honored to accept the job—or so certain that you couldn’t make it work that you have to decline (knowing, of course, that you’ve made a good faith effort to get what you deserve).

8. Taking Things Personally

Negotiations are business. Not personal. Don’t get offended if they don’t go exactly as you wanted. Or if you get push-back on your requests. Remember, this is business. You need to behave that way. Keep it professional and keep your ego and your bruised feelings out of the room.

9. Not Getting Your Final Offer in Writing

You get the offer you wanted. Great! But it’s not real, or binding in any way, unless you get it in writing. If an employer balks at your request to have this formalized, then that might be a big red flag that you should try your luck at some other, better-behaved company.

And remember, developing a strategy to answering the desired salary question is a big step towards determining how much money you will be paid, so make sure to go over answering that question in detail, in addition to everything mentioned in this article.


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About the author

Peter Jones

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