How NOT to negotiate salary

Negotiating salary is a crucial step in the job search process. It's a way to ensure you're getting paid what you deserve, but it's also an opportunity to learn more about whether or not you should even work for that company. When I was looking for my first job out of college, I watched one friend negotiate her salary down by $10K and another friend ask for $20K more than what they were offering and get it! But as much as I loved those stories—and wanted them to happen for myself—they never did. In fact, they don't always end well: A recent survey found that three-quarters of workers who asked for higher salaries didn't get them at all. So what do successful negotiators do differently? Read on!

How NOT to negotiate salary

Not preparing

When negotiating salary, it's important to be prepared. Here are some things you should do in advance:

  • Prepare for the interview. Research the company and role thoroughly so that you can ask intelligent questions about the job. Also prepare answers for tough interview questions (and practice them).

  • Prepare for the negotiation. Find out what other people at similar companies make—you can use Glassdoor or Payscale if you want to keep your research private. You could also just ask around in person without saying why—office water coolers seem to work well as a venue for this kind of thing!

  • Prepare for the job by learning everything there is to know about it, including its goals and values, responsibilities, daily tasks, etc., both before accepting employment and throughout your time with them (this will make sure both sides understand each other better).

  • Prepare yourself mentally by making sure that whatever compensation package they offer is fair based on all factors mentioned above combined with experience level/years spent working at similar companies plus additional factors like education level/major area of study (if applicable), skillset gained through school internships or volunteering experiences such as community service hours

Showing your cards too early

  • Don't show your cards too early.

  • Before you can negotiate your salary, you need to know what the company is willing and able to spend on salaries. This means that before revealing your salary requirements, you should ask questions about:

  • How much the company pays new hires (and how it compares to industry standards).

  • What the job entails. Does it require travel? Are there bonuses? Is there room for advancement?

  • What kind of benefits package comes with this position—even if you don't plan on using them right away—since these come out of a portion of every employee's salary.

Asking for too much, or not enough

Asking for too much or not enough is a common mistake that could cost you money. Here are some tips to help you avoid these mistakes:

  • Be realistic about your skills and experience. If you have no experience and are just starting out, it's probably not wise to ask for $50k/year—but it also might be too low if you have 20 years of experience and a PhD in your field.

  • Know the market rate for your position. This will vary depending on where you live, but Glassdoor provides great tools for finding out what other people in similar positions make at various companies in your area. It's also important to remember that this number won't be static—it can increase over time with raises or promotions.

  • Be prepared to explain why you are worth more or less than others who hold similar positions at other companies (or even within the same company). You may want more than someone else because they work remotely instead of having an office locally, which means they save money on gas every day; or maybe they don't speak any languages other than English so they can't communicate with clients overseas as often as someone else would need them too! Whatever reason it might be important here; make sure there's good evidence behind each one before making any claims though :)

Trying to be charming, in a dishonest way

Don’t try to be charming.

This is a trap I see far too many people fall into—and it’s the worst thing you can do in any negotiation situation, whether it’s for a job or anything else.

You cannot lie about your past experience and expect to get away with it, even if you’re selling yourself as someone who has more experience than they really do. You also cannot use humor as a way of covering up how much experience you don't have because this will backfire on you big time when they find out later that your skillset doesn't match what they need. If they realize that there's something missing in terms of knowledge or experience and ask questions about why this is so, don't pretend that nothing is wrong; instead, own up to it and explain honestly where things went wrong in order for them not only get compensated appropriately (or at all) but also help them avoid similar mistakes themselves!

Not making an offer when it's your turn

  • Don't wait for the employer to make an offer.

  • Don't be afraid to make an offer.

  • Don't be afraid to negotiate your salary if you feel it is below market value for that position or organization, as long as it's appropriate and professional—and if you have done your homework on what other people with comparable skills and experience are being offered in similar roles.

  • Don't be afraid to walk away if the company doesn’t meet your expectations (but only after trying everything else).

Being afraid to walk away

It's important to be willing to walk away if the offer is not good enough, or if you don't like the company. You may think, "Well, I'm happy with my job and I'd hate to leave." That's okay! You're allowed to say no—and you should always feel comfortable doing so when an offer doesn't meet your needs. If someone makes an offer that seems unfair, or doesn't meet all of your requirements in terms of compensation and benefits package, there's no shame in saying "no thanks."

It might seem scary at first, but being confident in yourself and knowing what it takes for a position/company/etc. will help ensure that when things don't go as planned (or expected), it won't leave you feeling stuck or desperate for anything less than ideal conditions.

There are several things you should avoid doing when negotiating salary.

  • Be prepared.

  • Be honest.

  • Be clear about what you want and why, even if it means telling the truth about your current pay or salary, which may be lower than what they're offering.

  • Be clear about what you are willing to give up (and why) in exchange for that new job and higher salary, like working longer hours or living farther away from home.

  • Let them know if there are other things that matter to you as well—flexibility with your schedule? A company car? Even if these things aren't possible now, let them know they should be part of any future negotiations when they do come up! It's important to get everything out on the table early so everyone knows where each person stands at all times during this process.


The bottom line? If you want to negotiate your salary successfully, you need to know what not to do. Our research shows that there are several common mistakes people make when negotiating their pay. First and foremost, it's important not to let fear of rejection prevent you from asking for a higher salary or other benefits. In addition, don't try too hard to be charming—and certainly don't lie about how much money others in similar positions are earning! Finally, avoid making an offer without knowing exactly what your budget is; otherwise, it could lead to trouble down the road

Photo By: Money Vectors by Vecteezy