Over the years, we’ve seen many talented professionals climb right up to the very last step, only to slip and tumble all the way to the bottom. Ninety-nine times out of 100, this is because they made some rookie mistake during the negotiation process.
Salary Negotiation Mistakes: 5 Ways to Blow it Every Time
Here are the five most common — and most deadly — negotiating mistakes made by professionals at all levels. Any one of these will annoy an employer into taking another look at their second choice
The Endless Requests
This is one of the most frequent mistakes made by rookies and seasoned professionals alike. In this scenario, the job seeker makes a torturously slow series of small requests and chooses to negotiate one item at a time, instead of presenting definitive targets for salary, vacation, title, etc. all at once at the start of the negotiation process. The hiring manager slogs through one bit of negotiation, only to discover another bit waiting for him on the other side. Avoid this by having a cohesive list of all your needs locked down by the time the negotiation process begins.
- “Our budgeted salary for this role is $150,000.”
- “Make it $175,000.”
- “We might be able to do $155,000, but I’m not –“
- “How about $165,000? You can do $165,000, right?”
- “$155,000 is really as high as we can go. It’s over our budget as is.”
- “Right, but what about $160,000 and an extra week of vacation?”
At this point, the hiring manager is probably regretting going with her gut and choosing you as her next hire. The Haggle is a crude and ineffective way of negotiating salary (or anything, really). Instead, ask if your target figure is within their budget’s range. If they give you a firm no, believe them. The hiring manager really wants to bring you on ASAP and will likely work with you to get you what you want, but if you’re holding out for an offer they just can’t afford, they’ll move on. Understand that the business has needs too, and avoid The Haggle. It cheapens us all.
The Last-Minute Curveball
The revised offer letter is right in front of you. All it needs is your signature, and you’ve got yourself a brand new gig. But just before you touch pen to paper, you blurt out, “Oh, by the way — I do my best work from home, so I won’t be in the office much. That’s cool, right?”
Wrong. It’s not cool, and you should’ve mentioned your need to work remotely well before the last minute. The last-minute curveball has derailed many an offer, especially those that have already undergone numerous rounds of negotiation and revision. You can avoid this by making a list of all your needs well in advance and presenting them all at once.
Let’s say you’ve been offered $190,000 as a final offer, but you really, really want to get to $200,000. They say no, but you hold out. But do you really need that extra 5%? Will that extra 5% change your life in some meaningful way? Or is it just plain old vanity driving you to fight for an inconsequential percentage of an otherwise wonderful offer? It happens more often than you’d think, and it’s a very silly and easily avoidable mistake. Be willing to compromise. If the offer is amazing, take the offer.
Playing Hard to Get
This one is self-explanatory. Don’t be coy about what you want. Don’t make the hiring manager or HR team guess what your target salary might be, or how many vacation days you want. Don’t be vague about your title or embarrassed to say that you have a health issue that requires regular attention. You’re not doing yourself or the employer any favors by being evasive. Just come right out with it. Everyone’s busy.
It all goes back to what we’ve been saying throughout this series: be honest, straightforward, and respectful in your dealings with a prospective employer. Respect their time and their energy. Know that you’re not their only priority. Advocate for your needs every time, but do so in a way that’s considerate of the people on the other side of the table. You’re much, much more likely to get what you want that way.
Now that you’ve landed your amazing new gig, we’ll teach you how to resign from your current job without burning any bridges.
28 Days to a New Job is a month-long Hired Guns course designed to help you maximize your competitiveness in the current job market. Learn the secrets to getting a job from hiring managers, recruiters, negotiation experts and more. Read our our introductory post here. Or Subscribe Now to receive 28 Days to a New Job as a daily email.