Negotiation is the easiest way to increase your lifetime earnings. Why is salary negotiation so important?
According to research, failing to negotiate your salary could cost $750,000 over the course of your career.
From a young age, we're taught that money is a private subject, and we should closely guard the details of our income, which can make salary negotiation uncomfortable, so often job seekers avoid it entirely.
Don’t do this! It never hurts to ask.
How to handle salary negotiations? Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when negotiating and how to negotiate salary for a new job.
10 don’ts on how to handle salary negotiations
1. accepting the first offer
As a rule of thumb, avoid saying yes to the very first offer. Most hiring managers will have an approved salary range for the role.
Just like you won’t give your bottom-line salary right out of the gate, hiring managers avoid starting with an offer at the top of their salary range in this job market.
Chances are good; they’ve left the room in case you counteroffer.
Basically: employers expect you to negotiate, so take advantage.
2. fearing that the offer will disappear
Job seekers are often concerned that asking for more money will come off as greedy, and the original job offer will disappear. That’s rarely the case.
Finding a hire-worthy candidate isn’t easy. If you’re the right person for the job, it’s in the hiring manager’s interest to strike a balance you’re both happy with.
Even if there’s no wiggle room in the offer, chances are the recruiter will simply say so, and the original offer will still be on the table, waiting for you to accept or reject it.
The ball will still be in your court during the salary negotiations.
3. getting too personal
How do you handle salary negotiations? The discussion should centre on your skills and qualifications. Focus on why you deserve a salary bump, not why you need one.
Bringing up your rent or medical expense for a sick relative can come across as pandering.
Frame salary discussions around the value you bring.
If you deserve a bump in salary, it’s because you have a skill that other candidates don’t, and you’re not willing to leave money on the table.
Avoid playing a cheap and likely ineffective sympathy card. At the end of the day, you’re being hired to perform a job.
Your pay is based on your merit for the job, not your personal life. However, you can still negotiate benefit packages such as health insurance, vacation days, etc.
4. lengthy, protracted salary negotiations
Negotiation is good. Drawing it out is not. After a couple of rounds of back and forth, you should have a good idea of where the middle ground lies.
Nickel and diming your potential employer to ensure you get every last penny possible can be exhausting and make it seem like you’re difficult to work with.
If you’re still unsatisfied with the offer after a few rounds of negotiation, it might be time to take a hard look at whether or not this is the right job for you.
If the compensation package isn’t what you expected, you can try offsetting the lack of compensation with other benefits such as vacation days or insurance packages.
However, if the negotiations have stagnated, it’s time to decide. Accept the offer, or cut your losses so you and the recruiter can each focus on finding a better fit.
5. not taking time to consider the offer
Your job is a big part of your life. Avoid making a snap decision after the rush of receiving an offer. You should read it over thoroughly and consider it before jumping all in.
The offer letter will outline the benefits and expectations of the job. Read the fine print before signing on the dotted line.
Most employers will allow you a day or two to mull it over before requiring a response.
If a timeline isn’t given, politely ask for time to consider it. Most employers will be amenable. Just avoid asking for more than a couple of days.
If you ask for too long to consider, they may wonder if you’re holding out for another offer.
6. not knowing your worth on the market
Know what your skills are worth on the job market. With all the salary information available online, there’s no excuse not to have a ballpark salary in mind.
Make sure to factor in where you live, as well. Salaries in this job market can vary significantly from city to city.
Remember to check salaries for related job titles; companies may use names for similar roles.
For instance, you may be applying for an administrative assistant job, but some of your duties overlap with those of an executive assistant job. It’s good to know the salaries and benefits package for both roles.
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7. making wishy-washy statements
During salary negotiations, avoid weak statements like ‘I think I deserve more,’ ‘Maybe there’s room to negotiate,’ or ‘That’s sort of low.’
Take a firm, confident stance. Own what your skills and experience are worth.
There’s no need to soften your language to indicate you’re flexible.
If your research shows that average salaries in this job market are higher than the offer, present your findings confidently.
Hiring managers are more likely to take you seriously when you have research to back it up.
8. revealing your bottom-line number
How to handle salary negotiations is by not putting a firm price tag on yourself. When asked about your salary expectations, offer a range or say you’re negotiable.
The lowest number in your range should be around what you expect your final salary to be or a little bit higher.
It’s important that both you and both you and the hiring manager must; however, sharing the lowest salary you’d accept can make it difficult to negotiate down the line.
Leave it to your employer to make an offer and negotiate the salary from there.
9. threatening to walk away
Salary negotiating can be stressful. It’s easy to get a little frustrated and blurt out that you’ll walk away if you don’t get what you want.
Avoid this tactic whenever possible, as it can come across as petulant or unprofessional.
You might have to walk away if the compensation package doesn’t close an acceptable amount.
However, politely stating that you don’t feel comfortable with the offer is much different than preemptively threatening to walk away to force your would-be employer’s hand.
This tactic will often be met with resistance because no one likes being threatened. Say, “I need X to feel comfortable accepting this offer,” versus “If I don’t get X, I’m out.”
This leaves room for further salary negotiating.
To further strengthen your case for an increase, lay out how you bring value and why you’re worth your ask.
10. not asking for the offer in writing
Always ask for offers in writing to ensure everything is on the up and up. This ensures there’s no confusion about your employment and pay terms and that everyone’s on the same page.
The offer letter will include your start date, salary, benefits package, vacation days, work schedule, the date you must accept the offer, and other important details.
If a potential employer refuses to put the offer on paper, this should raise red flags. There’s no acceptable reason for an employer to refuse to put your offer in writing.
If your would-be employer fails to do so, you should be suspicious.
- Do you negotiate your salary when you're looking for a new job?
- What advice do you have for others who are in the midst of salary negotiations?
We welcome your stories and advice.