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Salary Negotiation Don’ts
Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA, CCMC, CPRW

When it comes to important things a lot could -- and often does -- go wrong. Careless mistakes mercilessly ruin golden opportunities of a lifetime. When we stop playing pass-the-blame game and pause to carefully evaluate causes, we often come to a conclusion that, surprisingly, most do: with a little preparation and planning, these mistakes could have been easily avoided in the first place.

Unless you are considered “workforce royalty,” you will have to do your bit to negotiate your compensation package. Unfortunately job seekers falter at this very important step, often repeating mistakes that have a reputation of boomeranging with historical accuracy. Let’s review a few precautions you must take to avoid jeopardizing your negotiation.

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Poor research and preparation
Even if you decide not to negotiate your salary, research is very important. How else would you know if you are being compensated fairly? Not knowing your market value is a disastrous mistake that you must avoid at all costs.

Make a serious effort to research salary information in your industry, company, and profession. Know everything you can about market rate, compensation trends, employer policies, historic payouts, department budgets, cost of living, etc.

Pitching at the wrong time
To establish a fit between your expectations and the employer’s budget, interviewers often ask the famous question: “What are your salary expectations?”

Basically, they want to know whether they can afford you (or not). This is where your research can come handy, for, quoting an amount in either direction (above or below their budget) could work against you.

Some coaches are of the opinion that salary discussions should be deferred until the end of the interview process; their premise being that the first to offer, loses.

In order to postpone salary talk, some people use scripts as follows:

“I deeply admire and respect your company, and I am confident that the employees here are compensated very fairly. Basically, I am so interested in working with your company, particularly this position, that I would be very open to negotiating the salary to a figure that would be agreeable to both of us. I was hoping it would be okay to discuss the salary sometime later during the interview process, once we have made some progress.”

Choose your words carefully
Basically, you should use verbiage that matches the interviewer’s personality. If the interviewer repeatedly insists on providing a dollar amount, try to provide a range as opposed to an exact number.

Sounding greedy or rude
Even if salary discussions don’t go as intended, avoid sounding rude or greedy at all costs. Remember, employment is all about long term relationships.

Not considering the big picture
Sometimes the base pay may not be negotiable, but do give a thought to benefits, flex time, perks, tuition reimbursement, etc. The overall value of the package may turn out to be more than you expected. Long term growth opportunities and potential career benefits are also factors that must be weighed.

In cases where negotiations don’t go as planned, be flexible enough to accommodate employers’ [reasonable] restraints without hurting yourself. With right timing, careful preparation, and tactful negotiation you might be on your way to making the salary you deserve.

Related Articles:
Salary Negotiation Tips
Salary Information
Research Salary Information
Compare Salary Offers


Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after certified career management coach. He has helped thousands of clients, including professionals at Fortune 500 companies, through cutting-edge career management tools. Thakkar has authored hundreds of articles and is regularly invited to speak on a wide range of career-related issues. Nimish edits and manages a free career information site, SaiCareers.com, and is the CEO of a professional resume writing service, ResumeCorner.com.


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