Salary Negotiation Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them
Salary Negotiation Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them

When you come across that picture perfect job offer, the best advice is to grab it while you can, and say yes!

But sometimes that offer is a little less high than your hopes. If that’s the case, then it’s time to grab it by the horns and negotiate your way to a job offer that works for you!

While the “do” of accepting a good salary from a potential employer is obvious, the “don’ts” of what to avoid when negotiating your pay are not so much. In this article, we’ll offer you our best advice on what pitfalls you might come across and how to navigate them to get the best offer your recruiter’s willing to lay on the table.

1. Don’t Accept The First Offer

The first mistake you can make in negotiating is NOT NEGOTIATING!

The same way you have a salary range that is acceptable to you, your recruiter more than likely has a bandwidth to play with when it comes to your offer. And just as you would start at the upper end of yours, expecting to have your counteroffer whittled down, so too will they start on their lower end.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more. You’ll never never know if you don’t.

What have you got to lose?

2. Don’t Worry About Losing The Offer

One of the most common hurdles people create for themselves when entering negotiations is to base their actions around the fear of losing the offer entirely.

If the recruiter has made an offer that they are comfortable with, based on the skills and merits you’ve demonstrated throughout the hiring process, it goes against reason for them to revoke that simply because you attempted to negotiate.

Even if there is no room to negotiate, their offer will more than likely remain on the table.

Would you really want such a fickle employer anyways, if they did revoke an offer?

3. Don’t Make It Personal

Your arguments for deserving a higher salary should not come from a place of personal need. Keep the focus of the conversation on your merits and demonstrated talents.

For instance, you may need a better benefits package because of personal or medical reasons, but phrasing it as “I need…” instead of “I deserve…” doesn’t frame it in a way that makes bottom-line sense to your employer. Your best strategy is to play to your strengths.

What skills and successes make you the most valuable to recruiters?

4. Don’t Prolong The Negotiation

There’s no hard and fast rule for how many rounds of offers and counter offers are acceptable, but you should remain mindful of how narrow the gap is becoming as the allowances on both sides settle to the middle ground.

The last thing you want to do is penny pinch when it starts to seem that your recruiter has reasonably exhausted their wiggle room in negotiations. Negotiations can already be awkward and exhausting. You don’t want to come across as difficult or stubborn. It’s one thing to speak up for yourself, and another thing to miss the cues your recruiter is sending when the negotiations slow down.

What do you think is a good way to tell when the best compromise has been reached?

5. Don’t Rush Things

Consider the offer completely before you make decisions.

It is reasonable to ask for time to review any offer before you give an answer. Most employers will already allow you up to a few days to do so.

Take the time you need to compare it with other offers, or to weigh the pros and cons and decide, ultimately, if this is a job and salary that you can live with comfortably.

Have you ever jumped into a job you regretted?

6. Don’t Forget What You’re Worth

It will help spur negotiations along if you already have a decent understanding of what you’re worth.

Look up average salaries for your job type and industry, so you can avoid asking for too much (or too little). Be sure to review your job description, so that you can ensure you cross reference average salaries for other work that may be included in your duties, but not necessarily typical to the job title itself.

What is the average salary for your career type?

7. Don’t Be Soft In Your Approach

One of the best negotiation tactics is to approach it as though there is no room for negotiation.

While you should realistically still be flexible with your demands, the way you bring them up shouldn’t be. Avoid half-hearted statements such as “Maybe we could try…” or “I think I could…”

Be firm. State what you want clearly and without hesitation or ambiguity. This direct approach is a lot more effective, and will garner a lot more respect for you from your recruiter.

What other words and phrases do you think soften an approach?

8. Don’t Reveal Your Bottom-Line

Like a good poker player, you should play your cards close to your chest.

Revealing your bottom-line will make it easy for your recruiter to narrow down the smallest salary they can offer you, while still keeping you on the hook. Since your goal is to maximise your pay and benefits, that is the last thing you want to reveal.

You should know your own bottom-line though, so you know when it’s time to walk away.

Do you know what your bottom-line is? 

9. Don’t Threaten To Leave The Table

Negotiations may not procure you an offer that you can afford to take. When you realize you aren’t being offered enough, it’s time to leave the table. But prior to that, don’t use your willingness to end negotiations as a threat to try to gain more from the employer.

You will come across as a flight risk, and unreliable. Even if you do get the job, it paints you in a negative light. And, as we said before, your arguments should be based on your merits, not on anything else, threats included.

Don’t you think the best time to say you’re walking away is when you actually mean it?

10. Don’t Forget To Get It In Writing

After you’ve settled on a salary that you find reasonable, and that your employer is able to offer you, be sure to get their promise in writing.

This can seem inconvenient, as job contracts may need to be rewritten, but it guarantees that anything that might have been implied, or detailed verbally, will be followed through on by your new employer.

It also means nothing gets forgotten, as some moving pieces may have been given the most attention during negotiations, but you would be remiss to lose out on some other minor benefit that had been discussed just because it didn’t take precedent.

Have you ever had an employer try to cheat you out of an agreement just because it wasn’t written down?

Negotiations are a critical part of your career. It is often during pre-employment discussions that you chart the greatest part of your salary for the future, as raises and promotions will likely be based on a percentage of your existing wage. Every day, people lose out on an average of 500,000$ across the span of their career, because they enter new jobs without negotiating properly (per research by George Mason University and Temple University). Don’t let that be you! Avoid the negotiation pitfalls we discussed here, and maximize your value.