Salary Negotiations: 4 'Don'ts' for Job Seekers

Salary Negotiation

Feeling good about your compensation package is as essential to your overall career satisfaction as starting each day with a desire to do the best job possible. And once the initial thrill of the new job has worn off, it’s hard to have one without the other.

One of the best ways to avoid feeling undervalued is to sidestep some of the more common mistakes made in salary negotiations at the outset, when you’re joining a new company. These four salary negotiation tips can help you get paid what you’re worth — and stay enthused about your job.

1. Don’t enter salary negotiations unprepared.

Job seekers have a lot on their plate, from identifying target firms to crafting the perfect cover letter to deciding on what to wear to the job interview. The ultimate goal of all this preparation, of course, is to find a job you enjoy that also pays a competitive salary. The last thing you want to do is spend several hours getting ready to make a good first impression only to be caught off guard by a salary-related question when you’re not expecting it. Prior to the interview, consult resources like the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide to get some idea of the salary range you can expect, and be ready to discuss what you’ll be earning as soon as the interviewer raises the subject.

2. Don’t exaggerate past salaries.

You won’t be under oath during salary negotiations, but honesty is always the best policy. You may be tempted to inflate past salaries in hopes of scoring a better package at the new job, but as Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Job seekers who lie about past salaries never know if the interviewer is familiar with the salary structure at their previous places of employment. Exaggerating your past salary could be the one aspect of salary negotiations that turns you into an also-ran instead of a new hire.

3. Don’t play games.

Negotiating your salary is not a game, so don’t even think about treating it that way. When the talk turns to how much you’ll be paid, take a straightforward, no-nonsense approach. All your earlier preparation will serve you well when it comes time to settle on a figure that will work for both you and your new employer. Don’t muddle salary negotiations by going off on tangents and confusing the issue with bluffs, mixed messages or deceptive maneuverings.

4. Don’t forget considerations other than salary.

During negotiations, don’t forget other perks important to job seekers, such as telecommuting options, flexible work hours and opportunities for professional development. Before you start the salary negotiations, have a clear idea of what aspects of your new job other than base salary will influence your ability to give your best every day. Knowing what you want in those areas will make it much easier to recognize a good offer.

Earning what you’re worth is essential to both day-to-day productivity and long-term career satisfaction. You’ll begin your new job in a positive spirit if you have a mutually agreed upon salary and benefits package.  

Do you have tips on successful salary negotiations? Share them in the comments section below.