Top 5 Salary Negotiation Mistakes
If you want to make adults squirm like kindergartners, broach the subject of salary negotiation. Talking money makes most workers uncomfortable. And while they want such talks to succeed, they make plenty of blunders. If only they had some basic negotiation guidelines.
So what’s the best way to avoid stumbling and also boost your confidence? Rebecca Warriner, a job search coach and owner of Woodland Recruiting, a Seattle-based recruitment and outplacement firm, has some salary negotiation tips when pursuing a win-win situation for you and the employer—rather than starting out defensively, assuming you’re going to get a low offer. Warriner notes, “Salary negotiation is a dialogue that the company and the candidate should be having throughout the hiring process. It should not be a one-time conversation at the end.” She says to embrace your power and how it relates to the negotiation.
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Warriner, who’s been on both sides of salary negotiation for over 15 years, offers a handy list of negotiation mistakes to avoid.
1. Being unprepared. “I get pretty frustrated as a recruiter when I ask somebody, ‘What are your expectations as far as pay goes?’ [and they do not have an answer],” says Warriner. She suggests doing some homework, and then determining what you’d like to earn. Warriner recommends several methods, including using salary information Web sites, talking to recruiters, asking friends who work in human resources, or connecting with local professional organizations that have salary information.
Once you have a solid answer, practice it. Get in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye and say, “I earned $55,000 at my last job and I am targeting the $60,000s in this job search.” If you feel you were underpaid in your last gig but aren’t sure about bringing it up, Warriner advises raising the topic in a positive light, underscoring that you’d like to increase your earnings as you make your next career move to better reflect your skills and experience. It pays to be confident with your salary negotiation counteroffer, she adds.
2. Playing games. Telling a prospective employer what you think they want to hear is risky business. “Oftentimes, a candidate will say that they are very flexible; that they are willing to take a step back in pay. Don’t say you’re really flexible if you’re not,” Warriner says. She points out that this approach assumes the company will be more invested in and attached to you at the end of the interview process, and therefore willing to offer you more money than you first asked for—but they won’t be.