Salary Negotiation: 3 Mistakes That Could Cost You

salary negotiation

Whether you’re involved in a salary negotiation as a job candidate or want to discuss a raise during your annual performance review, having reliable salary information at your disposal is a must.

Settling on how much you’ll be paid can include some delicate back-and-forth moments, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel uncomfortable going into a salary negotiation. On the contrary: By doing your homework, you’ll be prepared with facts and figures when the time comes to talk turkey. You can avoid common salary negotiation mistakes and instead move the conversation along in a way that helps you get you what you want.

The Salary Guides from Robert Half are essential resources for doing so. The guides provide national salary ranges for positions specific to your profession and allow you to customize them for your local market.

Being armed with knowledge and details as you enter a salary negotiation is crucial, but it also helps to know what not to do. Here are three mistakes to avoid, along with helpful hints to get you the best possible outcome:

1. Failing to do adequate research: Don’t wing it when discussing salary. It’s too important for that and could also reveal that you’re out of touch with your industry.

Helpful hint — In addition to doing your salary research, learn more about the target company and its industry as a whole. Searching the firm’s name on Google News and Glassdoor will direct you to stories and insights about the company, and searching for industry terms will put you in a position to talk about trends that may have a bearing on your salary.

2. Underselling or overselling yourself: Don’t highball or lowball your salary request.

Helpful hint — Where you live is a key determinant in how much you earn. If you reside in Boise, don’t expect to earn what you’d make if you lived in Boston. An online Salary Calculator can help you pinpoint the right range for your location. In determining your target salary range, consider how the benefits package and bonuses affect your overall compensation, and be ready to adjust accordingly during the salary negotiation. Factor in the potential for advancement as well.

3. Failing to justify your request: Don’t freeze up at crunch time.

Helpful hint — Just as studying for a big test relieves your anxiety about making a good grade, research prior to the salary negotiation process will boost your confidence. It’s one thing to say you want a certain amount, but it’s another to clearly explain why that figure is justified. Highlight your in-demand skills, your relevant credentials and your commitment to furthering the company’s goals. Besides emphasizing what you already bring to the table, be prepared to discuss your plans for ongoing professional development that will benefit the company.

Earning the salary you deserve is much more likely when you avoid common mistakes and understand your worth to the company before you engage in any conversation about compensation.

Think beyond dollar signs when you’re in a salary negotiation. Check out our post, Employee Compensation: It's More Than Just Your Paycheck.