mistakes to avoid while negotiating a salary

10 Salary Negotiation Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Job

Some salary negotiation mistakes, however small they may seem, can result in a lower salary offer than you deserve. They can even make you lose the offer you’ve worked so hard for.

Money is an uncomfortable topic for a lot of folks, which is what makes negotiating a salary so difficult. For some people, even the thought of talking to your boss about your value to the company can induce all kinds of dread about rejection and potential conflict.

Although uncomfortable, it is always in your best interest to have such conversations with your boss to get the financial compensation you truly deserve. If you need help planning that conversation, here are a few tips I wrote for negotiating a higher salary.

Salary Negotiation Mistakes

With that said, you must also know what not to say during salary negotiation. So, the next time you go to your employer to ask for a raise, avoid making these common salary negotiation mistakes listed below to better your outcome in the future:

1. Poor Prior Performance

There are times when you are going through some personal problems, or you lack the tools to be a good performer, or you have not been empowered with the knowledge you need in order to do a certain job. Any of these reasons could be impacting your performance at work.

If you’re struggling with any performance issues, you should try to resolve them first before asking for a raise. Here’s a blog, “How to Succeed When Your Boss Doesn’t Have Time for You,” by The Muse that I recently came across. You should give it a read if you’re facing any performance issues to build a better, more performance-driven relationship with your boss.

Once your performance is back on track and you’re doing well in the eyes of the employer, you can then speak to them about giving you a raise. If your employer is not happy with your prior performance, it’s unlikely that they will listen to your request, let alone give you a raise.

poor prior performance

2. Not Giving a Counter-Offer

This is a  common salary negotiation mistake a lot of people make. Many people get so nervous about talking about compensation that they accept the first offer the company makes without countering. But settling for a lower offer can seriously hurt your earning potential later down the line and if you end up with less than adequate pay, you might even feel a lack of motivation at work. According to a study by Lifehacker, those who don’t negotiate might lose up to $600,000 over the course of their working lives. Not to forget, the optimal number of times to counter an offer is two – this results in the best offer. 

not giving a counter-offer

3. Threatening

It’s a good thing to be confident that you deserve a better salary. You should certainly present your case to the employer. But there is a certain way that you should put that across. Negotiating a salary is a delicate matter and you shouldn’t make the mistake of threatening your boss while asking for a raise. The key is to always remain polite and make sure that your tone doesn’t come across the wrong way.

How? The next time when you are negotiating a raise, ask for what you want and deserve, but don’t lead your boss to believe that you won’t work at your full potential unless your salary is increased.

If you truly feel frustrated with your workplace and stuck where you are, perhaps it is time to update your LinkedIn profile to try to get some traction passively from employers.

Threatening while negotiating a salary

4. Failing to Research Your Market Value

The foundation of a successful negotiation is research. You’re making a huge mistake if you get into salary negotiation without researching the average salaries in your role and your company, your actual performance, and benefits and perks aside from the salary. There is a range of tools where you can research the significant elements mentioned above, such as salary.com and payscale.com. You can also talk to people in your network and get their perspectives on the company, the current salary trends in the market, and your talent. Here are some of my blogs on networking that you can read to learn how to network effectively, which will be critical for you if you are aiming for a director-level salary or higher; being well-networked can result in information that results in a salary that is tens of thousands higher.

Failing to research your market value while negotiating a salary

5. Talking Too Much

While negotiating a salary, if you spend most of the time talking, rather than leaving space for the other person to speak, you can miss out on key information that will make you a more effective negotiator and help you create a better salary package for yourself. 

During your salary negotiation, say what you want and then pause. It may take your employer time to sift through the request. Rather than rambling about why you want or deserve the raise to fill the silence, you appear authoritative and patient, which can earn you some extra points and hopefully help you get a raise.

Plus, you won’t accidentally say something that can hurt you in the negotiation process; sticking to your practiced agenda will be more fruitful.

Talking too much while negotiating a salary

6. Failing to Negotiate the Non-Salary Items

Your salary package often contains more than the money you get for the work you do. Hence, you shouldn’t focus your negotiation just on the salary. Consider any non-salary item such as paid vacation time, bonuses and commissions, a raise in the future, and health care. You’ll likely end up with a better deal because it might be that the employer can’t budge much with the salary but can make adjustments with other benefits.

Failing to negotiate the non-salary items while negotiating a salary

7. Revealing How Much You Would Accept

A very common salary negotiation mistake job seekers make is revealing their lowest salary limit. Sometimes, it is hard not to offer this information, especially if the employer specifically asks for your salary requirement. If you are asked about it, you need to carefully decide how you’ll handle the situation. Because if you mention $100k as your lowest salary limit, the employer will just stick to that figure and will have no reason to pay you any more than $100k when they know you’ll accept just that. And you will hurt your chances of potentially getting a higher salary. 

Instead, always have multiple figures in your mind:

  • An acceptable offer without any perks. This is the figure you’re aiming to get.
  • An acceptable offer with some perks included. If your boss is not willing to give you what you are looking for, then you can put this number on the table with some perks included.
  • A walk away number. This is your minimum salary requirement after which you’ll walk away from the negotiation table. You should not share this with the company. This number is for your eyes only.
Revealing how much you would accept. while negotiating a salary

8. Taking Salary Negotiations Personally

Many people get emotionally invested in the negotiation process and start taking things personally because they believe that their salary is a reflection of their worth. But you need to understand that your salary is not an accurate representation of your worth as a human and your achievements. A salary is a business decision and you are not given your salary based on what your boss thinks you deserve as a human. Rather, it depends on your role, qualification, and the company’s financial position. Therefore, it’s imperative to do research on the company and your role. This will give you the confidence to move on with the negotiations. 

To do research, you can visit the company’s website and the job description mentioned there. You can look up the company’s financial indicators if public, or make educated guesses based on your inside knowledge. Moreover, you can network to get an idea about the previous salary for the position you are applying against. You can also get your network’s perspective on the company and the current salary trends.

Taking. salary negotiations personally while negotiating a salary

9. Focusing on Your Needs Rather Than Value

In order to maintain a decent lifestyle and live peacefully, you need a good salary package. But using it as an excuse to get a raise is not the best approach to negotiate a salary. Your employer will not be convinced to give you money just because you need it. Your salary has to reflect the value you add to the company and only when you show this will your employer be convinced to give you a raise.

Focusing on your needs rather than value

In order to do that effectively, know your worth and present your argument with strong proofs and facts. Here’s an example of a good and bad argument:

  • The bad argument:

“After much research, I have concluded that I am worth $130k.”

  • The good argument:

“I believe that a salary of $130k would reflect my value. As you can see from my previous work, I developed and implemented a four-year marketing plan which successfully met all marketing and sales objectives by 100%. My strategies for the future are also forecasted to increase marketing ROI by at least 40% and expand our reach in two key regions. I also successfully organized a huge marketing fair, which resulted in increasing the company’s clientele by a staggering 58%. My ability to plan for the future, coupled with my experience in sales and marketing, makes me an ideal candidate for expanding your company’s international reach. If I were to get this raise, I would continue to push the limits and think out-of-the-box ideas and solutions. By combining my technical skills with my creative thinking, I know I can come up with some exciting work for the team.”

10. Not Asking for the Offer in Writing

Once everything about your new salary is decided, and you have been offered a salary package that you find acceptable, the last and the most important thing you should do is to ask for the final offer in writing. Not asking for the offer in writing can be a huge mistake to make. Here’s why:

  • Firstly, you are better able to remember just what is being offered without forgetting any figures being mentioned during the negotiation. You might likely mix up the numbers you’ve discussed. Therefore, it is recommended to have it written down.
  • Secondly, from a legal standpoint, it is necessary to have the offer written. You cannot just rely on a verbal or informal offer. By getting the offer in writing, you have proof of the salary and terms agreed upon by yourself and the employer.
Salary negotiation mistakes you must avoid

Conclusion

A successful salary negotiation will not only boost your confidence in your professional abilities but will also ensure that you get the financial compensation that you truly deserve. If you just avoid these salary negotiation mistakes, you are sure to get a better salary package.

If you’d like to get one-on-one brainstorming help with your raise plan, you can schedule a session with me here.

In my salary negotiation coaching session, I’ll create a plan of action just for you:

  • You will learn the specific techniques that will work for your unique personality.
  • We’ll discuss your bosses and reporting hierarchy to identify what will work for your unique corporate structure.
  • I’ll also show you how to anticipate your bosses’ and HR’s moves before they make them. This will help you go into the negotiation process fully prepared and with a cool head.
  • I’ll give you live feedback on your “ask” script.

So work with me on Saturday, talk to your manager on Monday, and get yourself that raise by Wednesday.

Best of luck with your next negotiation meeting. I really hope you get the salary you deserve!

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