5 Salary Negotiating Mistakes to Avoid

Discussing salary requirements with a potential employer can be nerve-racking. Ask for too much and you may not get the job. Ask for too little and you may miss out on a substantial amount of money. Knowing how to avoid the following seven negotiating mistakes can help you land the job of your dreams and get you the salary you deserve.

Failing to research your competition. When you are interviewing for a job, you are competing with other qualified individuals pursuing the same objective. Knowing what skills and experience they bring to the table will help you understand your competitive advantage and allow you to negotiate your salary accordingly. Researching individuals who hold similar positions at your target company or their competitors using LinkedIn or another professional database will help you define your competitive advantage.

Discussing salary too soon. Disclosing your salary expectations too early in the interviewing process can often end a promising opportunity. Most initial interviews are conducted by a screener who is tasked with eliminating candidates. While your skills and experience may make you an ideal candidate for the position, your salary expectations may take you out of the running. Once you have reached the hiring manager you will have the opportunity to discuss how you can fill their needs rather than fill a pre-formed position. You will also have a better opportunity to understand if the long-term benefits of working with the company outweigh their initial offering.

Underselling yourself. Companies spend a great deal of time and effort during the interviewing process convincing you that their company is a great place to work. They are “selling you” on the opportunity. During the interviewing process, you should be “selling them” on how you will add value to their company. When discussing your salary expectation, don’t think about how much money you need, think about how much the company needs your skills and abilities.

Failing to express enthusiasm for the job. Negotiating your salary comes after a job offer. Before diving into the numbers, make sure you let your potential employer know how excited you are about the prospect of working with them. A job offer means they want to work with you. You have achieved your goal and are finally in the driver’s seat. Telling your employer how excited you are about the position will infuse the salary negotiation with a positive vibe that will help you discuss the subject in a problem-solving rather than confrontational way.

Accepting an offer without negotiation. Though there are definitely exceptions, most companies leave some room for negotiation. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. You’ve been negotiating since the first time you asked to stay up late. Why stop now?

Negotiating without a career goal. When you are negotiating your salary or comparing multiple offers, remember to think in the long term. If the salary is higher than other positions you have been looking at, make sure you understand where the job will lead you. Getting yourself into a dying industry with a high salary is a long-term prescription for disaster.

Advancing your career is more than a matter of negotiating the best possible salary. The best way to get ahead is to do something you are passionate about. A great salary and a lousy job is far worse than a lousy salary and a great job. Once you have found your purpose in life, the money will follow.


About Charlotte Weeks - Executive Career Coach / Executive Resume Writer / Outplacement Consultant

Prior to founding Weeks Career Services, Inc. Charlotte Weeks worked in human resources at a national association, where she experienced the hiring process from the other side. She's also the past president of The National Resume Writers' Association (The NRWA). Charlotte specializes in providing C-level executives (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.), association executives, executive directors and senior-level professionals (director, VP, SVP, etc.) with comprehensive career coaching services and high-ROI resumes. She is author of "I Want a Job in an Association -- Now What?? A Guide to Getting a Job in a Professional Association, Membership Organization, or Society" and featured author of "101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career." Additional book contributions include "The Twitter Job Search Guide," "Resumes That Pop!," and "Step-by-Step Cover Letters." As an internationally-recognized expert, Charlotte provides programs and documents tailored to each individual’s needs. To ensure that each person is given the highest quality of attention and service, Charlotte works with a limited number of new clients each month.
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