Salary negotiations are an important part of job hunting and career growth. However, as most professionals know, they aren’t always the easiest conversations to have. Perhaps that’s why many workers simply don’t have them.
According to a survey from Glassdoor, nearly 60 percent of Americans said they took the first salary they were offered. Not negotiating is probably the biggest mistake people make when accepting a job offer or salary increase. Employers expect candidates to counter the first offer.
But while failure to negotiate is a big mistake, it’s certainly not the only blunder related to salary conversations. There are many errors employees and job candidates make that result in their being underpaid and undervalued. Earning an Online Master of Business Administration from Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business is an excellent first step in boosting your salary. However, it’s important to know how to negotiate the pay you deserve.
Here are four additional mistakes to avoid making when discussing your salary:
1. Not doing your research
If you don’t know how much you’re worth, how will you know you’re being paid fairly? The first step in any salary negotiation begins well before you open the conversation with your boss or the hiring manager.
There are many salary calculators online to help you uncover your market worth. These are a good starting point, but one calculator shouldn’t be the extent of your research. Variations in job titles, responsibilities and descriptions can dilute the accuracy of results, U.S. News & World Report explained. Additionally, education level can make a difference, such as if you have graduated from an Online MBA program.
When researching your market worth, don’t forget to factor in your geographic location. Cost of living varies immensely across the U.S., which means a fair salary in one locale may be a gross underrepresentation of your worth in a different state or city.
Connecting with relevant professional organizations can also give you good insight. Talk to others in your region that are in similar roles. You can even inquire with your co-workers, Glassdoor pointed out. Take caution with this tactic though. Conversations surrounding money can make some people feel uneasy, and may come off as offensive.
Ease into the subject, and don’t use specific numbers. Begin by sharing the range your salary falls into, and ask whether your co-worker’s is similar. Remember, your peers may not be willing to share, and that’s okay. If it seems to make the other person uncomfortable, take note of his or her reaction and leave the topic be.
2. Serving up your income history on a silver platter
At some point during the hiring process, a human resources professional may ask about your salary history. Do not answer this question, Forbes contributor Liz Ryan implored. What you’re making now, or what you were making a year ago, is none of your future employer’s business. Your salary shouldn’t be based on what you were paid in a past position; your salary should be based on the value you bring to the company.
If you are asked this question, respond with your target salary range instead. Don’t lose focus of your end goal.
3. Asking for a salary range you don’t actually want
It’s a good practice to ask for a salary range rather than one specific number. However, when you do ask for a salary range, you should be intentional with the minimum and maximum you choose. Glassdoor pointed out that this is where your market research will come in handy.
First, determine the minimum salary you’d be willing to consider. Keep it to yourself, Salary.com advised. Often, companies will use this as a starting point to your salary negotiation, which means you may wind up with a lower offer than you deserve if you offer this number up too soon.
Next, determine the most you’ll ask for. This number should be just as intentional as your minimum. Don’t undersell yourself, but don’t give in to greed either. Further, never tell an employer that you need a certain salary to make ends meet, LiveCareer noted. Your mortgage payment, student loans or other financial responsibilities are none of your employer’s business.
Keep your range tight. If you say you’re looking for a salary of between $50,000 and $63,000, you’re telling the employer that you’d be happy with $50,000; $63,000; or anything in between. If you get an offer that’s within the range you requested, but you want higher compensation, you need to be ready to confidently and clearly explain why you deserve a salary that’s closer to the higher end of the scale.
4. Not asking for written confirmation
Finally reaching an agreement can feel like a relief. Whether the salary negotiation was a long process or fairly quick, hearing that magic number is always nice. However, don’t let the conversation stop there. Your negotiation isn’t over until you have the agreement in writing.
Asking for written confirmation isn’t too much to ask. Any respectable employer understands the need for documentation, and if your boss or the hiring manager refuses or acts offended at the request, take this as a red flag, LiveCareer advised.
Unfortunately, not all salary conversations end with a raise. Sometimes, a company isn’t in the right place to give one. Other times, an employer might want to see the results of a campaign or project you’re working on before agreeing to the adjustment. Additionally, some companies have a pre-determined time of year when they go through salary reviews, Glassdoor pointed out.
If any of these sound familiar, or if your raise got postponed for another reason, the conversation may have ended with a promise of a future review or raise. If this is the case, you should still seek out written confirmation, U.S. News & World Report explained. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. A simple follow-up email stating your appreciation for the conversation and confirmation that you’ll discuss the possibility of a raise further at a specific point in time should be enough. Remember, when that time does come around, it’s not necessarily up to the employer to begin the conversation. Take matters into your own hands. Remind your boss about your previous conversation and state that you’d like to reopen the topic.
Salary negotiations can be tricky. Skillfully countering and discussing salaries is a talent that people need to develop over time. The only way to grow this skill, however, is to practice. Don’t settle to be underpaid in any position. Rather, know the basics of salary negotiations, and pursue what you deserve.
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