7 Common Mistakes in Salary Negotiation and How to Avoid Them

Whether you’re a complete newbie to job hunting or are practically a professional at it, you should know that negotiating is a balancing act, and trying to get a higher salary can be a very tricky process. If you’re trying to seal the deal, here are some of the most common salary negotiation mistakes that you should avoid making:

1. Not doing your homework.
At some point in your interview process, you will likely be asked for the salary range that you are after. One of the most important negotiation tactics to remember is to do your homework ahead of time. Research on the average salary range for your position, and take into account your academic degrees and experience. Do your best to ask the people working in your field on top of checking salary websites.

2. Negotiating too soon.
Why put in all that effort if the job isn’t even yours yet? Be patient and refrain from asking about compensation on your first job interview. Keep in mind that your leverage will be much stronger if you’re the last man or woman standing and you’re sure that you’re the one the company wants.

3. Not considering the benefits.
You may have gotten the salary you were after, but did you negotiate for a proper benefits package? Check that you are being given benefits such as retirement contributions, paid leaves, and healthcare. You may even be able to negotiate for the ability to work from home on certain days.

4. Not Knowing your limits.
Come into a salary negotiation process knowing the absolute minimum amount that you would be willing to accept and still be happy with. If you are being offered an amount lower than your floor, thank them for the generous offer and simply tell them that you cannot accept anything lower than that. You’ll find yourself with great power over the negotiation process.

5. Keeping them waiting for too long.
While it’s perfectly understandable to ask for a couple of days to think about an offer, don’t take too long to do so. Most negotiation tips will tell you to think about it for no longer than one week. If you take any longer than that, you’re giving the employer the impression that you aren’t very interested in the job or that you’re still waiting for other offers.

6. Making too many changes.
If you are seriously interested in a particular job but aren’t completely happy with what’s being offered to you, consider making a counteroffer. Remember, however, that you shouldn’t negotiate every single element of the initial offer. Choose your battles wisely and only negotiate on the elements that make the biggest difference to you.

7. Not negotiating at all.
Studies show that females and younger job seekers tend to accept the initial offer being given. No matter what, remember that salary negotiation is worth a try. If you settle on the initial salary being offered to you, you’ll never know if you would have been given more just by asking for it. Moreover, you’ll start on a low base which all future increases are based on, i.e. you may up being underpaid for a long time to come.


Martin P R Collins is a negotiation expert at Geneva Education who frequently gives free advice in his articles and negotiation blog posts. See here to learn his 20 most common negotiation tips. Or click here for a free negotiation tactic on a 90 second YouTube video, that will also be very helpful in salary negotiation.