It doesn’t matter whether you’re interviewing for a new job or you’ve been at your current job for years.
While it may be tempting to avoid that awkward conversation all together and take the first figure that gets thrown out at you, this is rarely a good idea. Research offers up various reasons for why you should always negotiate your salary.
Just think about this: If a yearly raise isn’t guaranteed, you need higher pay to account for yearly cost of living adjustments caused by inflation.
Essentially, if you aren’t planning on negotiating your salary, you should be. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad advice out there about how to go about doing this.
There’s an art to negotiating your salary, but at the same time there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules.
With that in mind, here are seven things not to do when negotiating your salary, along with some resources that can help you avoid these common mistakes.
Mistake 1: Always Negotiate for Higher Pay
Going in, it seems intuitive to focus only on the amount of money you’ll be paid each year. However, there are many other things you should pay attention to during negotiations as well.
Try to also focus on things other than just your base salary, including paid time off, remote working options, and bonuses. In the end, you may not completely maximize your base salary, but the other things you’re able to negotiate into your deal could make it a better package overall.
To calculate paid time off, there’s a handy PTO Calculator app for Android that can help. The app uses your balance and earning rate to determine your PTO, updating automatically as time passes.
If you end up working remotely, you may want to give the Hubstaff time-tracking app a try to help you get paid for the hours you put in. There is a free lite version available, as well as a $5-per-month basic edition and a $9-per-month premium edition.
Mistake 2: Ignore Salary Entirely
While you don’t want to focus exclusively on salary, don’t let it get lost in the shuffle. Aim high while also being careful not to go too high. It also helps to get specific. For example, instead of asking for $50,000 flat, try asking for something like $51,500. If anything, this will give the impression that you know what you’re worth and that you won’t settle for less.
Jobjuice makes a number of job interviewing apps, including one focused on salary negotiation. Negotiating expert Roger Dawson helped develop the app along with Wharton MBAs.
The Salary Negotiation Tips app for Android is also a good resource. It features many handy talking points all in one place to help you learn the ins and outs of negotiating.
Mistake 3: Let Your Boss Suggest a Figure First
While it may seem intuitive to lay back and let your potential employer throw out the first number, that won’t work in every situation. In fact, some businesses won’t continue talks or make an official offer unless they know what you’re looking for upfront.
There are varying opinions on this issue. Some say you should never be the first to offer up a salary number, while others insist employers won’t take you seriously if you don’t open with a starting point. The safest bet is likely somewhere in between — get a good feel of the person or people you’re negotiating with, and do what seems appropriate.
One good resource to help you determine how much you are worth is the PayScale website. The site takes you through a survey, beginning with your job title and location, and generates a free report that includes a pay range for your job and salary info about people similar to you.
Mistake 4: Don’t Challenge the Offer
Whether you agree with the employer’s offer or not, it’s perfectly OK to ask how they got there. Tell them you know others in similar positions make this much, your experience — in your mind — is worth this much, so how did they arrive at the number they offered? Back up any figures you plan to throw out with current data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics or another credible source.
Employers always appreciate candidates who ask questions. In fact, they dislike those who don’t ask questions. So don’t worry about offending anybody. They’ll most likely appreciate your curiosity and quest for transparency.
One tool you can use to help prepare yourself is the Job Interview Question-Answer app. It’s a simple video app that can help improve your interviewing and negotiation skills, or at least help you feel more comfortable going in.
Download — Job Interview Question-Answer for Android (Free)
Mistake 5: Accept the First Good Offer
It’s called a negotiation for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you should by eager to jump at the first respectable offer. You don’t want to shoot too high and risk having an offer withdrawn, but you also don’t want to sell yourself short. By definition, a negotiation involves a little back-and-forth.
It’s never too late. Salary.com’s Jim Hopkinson offers some tips for negotiating salary even after you’ve already accepted the job offer. One of his main points? “If you are honest, stand up for your worth, and conduct things in a professional, businesslike manner, you’d be surprised at what can be negotiated.”
Mistake 6: Say, “This Is My Final Offer”
You want to avoid making statements that sound like threats. They can sound off-putting, and you most likely don’t really believe it to begin with. There is a way to be firm and fair without taking it too far. There are other things you should avoid saying, as well.
Check out these things you should never say in a salary negotiation. The list will help you avoid a negotiation faux pas, such as saying, “That’s all you’re offering me?”
Mistake 7: Don’t Sound Overly Prepared
When it comes to negotiating, it helps to feel confident. What better way to do that than getting to know how you stack up against other employees in similar positions?
I think a lot of us feel that we need to have a good poker face when it comes to negotiating salary. We don’t want to seem too prepared and thus come across as being desperate.
However, it’s worth pointing out that word-vomiting the latest statistics and salary data about your position is far different than quietly researching the necessary information so you can support your proposal for more benefits or a higher wage.
A few days before you go into your negotiation meeting, take the time to research the following information:
- What is the average income of professionals with similar work experience in your industry?
- Is there a gender-income gap in your industry?
- How does the standard of living in your city impact your salary?
- What special skills or experiences do you have that might make you worth more?
- How does this company’s salary offerings compare to their competitors?
To find this information, you can search through salary data by industry using a site like Glassdoor. The career benchmarking site has a good reputation as an up-to-date archive of career information. Sign up for a free account with the site,. It takes just second and is well-worth the time.
Glassdoor also offers a personalized salary estimate calculator tool that tells you your market value and your worth in the context of the current job market.
If you’re rather have this information at your fingertips, apps like Wagespot make national salary information accessible to everyone. This app encourages employees to rebel against keeping their salaries quiet, and help each other understand where industry inequalities lie.
With Wagespot, you can perform a salary search and access data provided by other real employees. If you want to remain anonymous on the app, Wagespot understands and lets you do that, too.
Best of all, the app is free to download and use.
How Much Better Did Your Negotiating Skills Just Get?
Negotiating your salary might not be something you’re looking forward too. But you can feel confident that at least you won’t be making some of the biggest negotiation mistakes out there.