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4 Salary Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid

Topics: Negotiation
It can be a daunting prospect to negotiate your salary. Discussions about money can feel awkward or taboo, but it’s important not to let that stop you from asking for what you feel is fair and deserved. If you don’t negotiate, even for an entry-level job, you could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career.

Scared of salary negotiation? You’re not alone. In fact, 28 percent of people who told PayScale they had never negotiated salary, refrained from doing so because they were uncomfortable talking about money.

Discussions about money can feel awkward or taboo, but it’s important not to let that stop you from asking for what your research indicates is a fair price for your skills and services. (And if you’re not sure what the market will bear, PayScale’s Salary Survey is a great place to start.)

If you don’t negotiate, you could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. Even if you’re looking at your very first job, it’s important to get the best salary you can, in order to maximize your earnings over a lifetime.

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Here are four common negotiation mistakes to try to avoid next time you sit down for a conversation about salary. Keep them in mind as you research a reasonable range and prepare for the back and forth:

Negotiating by Email

It’s really better to stick to negotiating either in person or on the phone. The risk with email is that your tone can easily be misinterpreted, and salary negotiation can be a sensitive issue. Instead, use email as a tool to schedule phone calls and meetings, so that the conversation can be a true exchange that’s not plagued by misunderstandings.

Overlooking Other Perks

While salary is certainly important, don’t lose sight of what initially attracted you to a job in the first place. Whether it’s the impressive title, a chance to develop new skills, or an excellent benefits package, keep it in mind so that you don’t push for an unrealistic salary. Money isn’t everything when it comes to job satisfaction.

Being Afraid to Make the Opening Offer

It goes against conventional wisdom, but if you wait for the company to bring the first salary offer, you could be missing out. The anchoring principle offers you the advantage if you throw out the first number or range, because you are then setting the parameters of the conversation. It’s important to do your research on the position and organization first, so that this number is realistic. Don’t be afraid to get the conversation rolling. (Of course, there are two schools of thought on this one; if you prefer to let the hiring manager start the conversation, PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide can help you strategize.)

Giving Into Your Nerves

The most crucial element of negotiating salary is to remember that the person you’re negotiating with expects it. It’s a routine part of looking for a job, so try not to let your nerves dissuade you from negotiation. Don’t rush yourself, don’t simply accept the first number that’s offered, and come prepared with current research that backs up your requests.

Tell Us What You Think

Can you think of more mistakes to avoid when negotiating a new salary? Do you agree with those above, or have more to add? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Twitter.

Kirsty Wareing
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P Pettersen

I agree with your article. I think the most important negotiation to have is when you get the job. I’ve always been in the situation of being so happy I got it, I never think I should have negotiated more. When I have been offered employment, I was happy the pay was better than the last one, but is it even an average salary for the position? I never think of the sides either! Vacation may not be on your… Read more »


For many years I was one of the those people, afraid to negotiate or to admit my worth. A few years ago I started with a new company and I happened to be acquainted with the boss for many years, although I never liked him. Over a 2 year period I had the opportunity to exel at my job and reach heights I never knew I could reach. With my new found confidence I also found my voice. When it… Read more »

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