7 Salary Negotiation Tips Almost Guaranteed to Backfire

A  woman gets salary negotiation tips from a fellow professional

When it comes to negotiating your starting salary with a new employer, there's plenty of great advice out there. But you're also likely to come across some guidance that will do your chances of success more harm than good. And telling good salary negotiation tips from bad isn't always easy.

If you've received a job offer, avoid making these seven mistakes when negotiating your compensation package:

1. Put salary information in your cover letter or resume. Some candidates are bold, stating their salary requirements in their cover letter, without being asked by the employer to do so. Others even go so far as to include details about past pay right on their resume. Among the top salary negotiation tips to heed: Avoid talking about money, unprompted, in your application materials. This move can come put you out of the running immediately if your requested range is even a little out of line with what the employer has in mind, or limit your bargaining power later on.

2. No job offer? No problem. Anyone who gives you a salary negotiation tip telling you to discuss salary before you've received a job offer – or at least serious interest from an employer –isn't giving you sound advice. While a hiring manager may ask you what your ideal range is, there's no point trying to haggle for pay before you receive an offer of an employment – besides, your leverage will be much stronger once you've been identified as the best candidate for the job.

3. Cite your personal finances. When it does come time to negotiate salary, you may be tempted to tell a new employer about your crippling mortgage and sky-high car payments. Resist the urge. Salary conversations should be solely about your value to the company, not your personal finances. Remember, employers don't pay people based on financial need – so don't cite your kid's college tuition as a reason you're asking for more money.

4. Just wing it. Thinking about entering into salary negotiations unprepared? Think again. If you're caught off-guard when an employer asks you what kind of pay you're looking for, you risk low-balling yourself or stating an unreasonable sum. Among the best salary negotiation tips: Do your homework so you're ready with a well-researched, reasonable answer when the question comes up.

5. Google it. To be successful at salary negotiations, you need to go in knowing what your skills and experience are worth. But if someone tells you that searching the Web for salary information is your best bet, be wary: Some websites can lead you to unreliable or outdated data on what others in the accounting and finance profession are making. You need to find credible, current statistics that reflect pay rates specific to your region, such as those available in the annual Salary Guide from Robert Half.

6. Take your time. It's normal to ask for a few days to consider an offer – some hiring managers may even give you a week. But if you ask for much time beyond that, you risk giving the impression that you're not excited about the job or are waiting for other, better job offers. That's a good way to lessen the employer's enthusiasm...and bring yours into question.

7. Don't do it. Whatever you do, negotiate. If you take the first salary you're offered, you'll never know if you could have gotten more by simply asking.

Salary negotiation tips that worked years ago aren't necessarily going to be effective now. In fact, some can hurt your chances. Outdated advice, like listing your desired pay on your resume, can backfire.