What NOT to Do When Negotiating a Higher Salary
Negotiating for a better salary is nerve-wracking for nearly everyone…even seasoned pros. The situation feels tense and a mild sense of doubt might creep in during the meeting. You start questioning yourself and wondering if you have enough facts to support your “ask,” and what if the employer says “no?” You wonder: “If I don’t get this raise/salary, will I be able to support myself?” “Do I even deserve this raise?”
Whatever you do, there are certain things you never, ever say when you’re negotiating your compensation package. Avoid making these mistakes by mentioning:
- "I have multiple companies trying to hire me." This comes across as a threat and makes everyone uncomfortable. Remember, a negotiation is an attempt to come to an agreement that both parties are satisfied with. No one wants to feel backed into a corner.
- "I’m insulted by your offer." This isn’t personal and you needn’t feel “insulted” by an initial offer. A better tactic is to explain that you’d like to take the job if you can get to a number that bridges the gap between the offer and what you need to feel good about the position.
- "I was at the top of my class at school." This is irrelevant information. Your grades at school have no bearing on the job at hand and the duties you’re taking on in this position. It’s a little immature and makes you look like a petulant child.
- "If you can’t give me the salary I want, I’ll walk away." Again, this is a negative approach and doesn’t serve the purpose of both parties “winning.” You really have to be prepared to walk and what will you gain? Now you have to look for another job and you may have burned some bridges here.
- "I was earning more than this years ago." Your past salary information has nothing to do with this offer or employer. It doesn’t make the case that your value has gone up and why. It’s past history.
- "I can’t pay my bills." This is a personal issue for you and your employer is not required to increase your income so you can meet your expenses. It implies you can’t manage your money and are looking for a hand-out and not an earned increase. Chances are your co-workers are in the same position.
- Saying “sorry.” Over-apologizing is a major turn-off. A negotiation is a time to present valid reasons for an increase in pay. You don’t need to apologize for negotiating.
- "I’ll work really hard". Let’s face it, you’re expected to work hard no matter what you’re paid. Being an “amazing” employee is not an argument for a higher salary. It seems childish and won’t impress anyone.
- "I haven’t asked for a raise or anything since…" Complaining is not a successful strategy. If you really haven’t asked for a raise in X years, you can mention that after you make a case based on your accomplishments and value to the company.
On a more positive note:
1. Practice your negotiating with a friend or colleague. Get comfortable explaining what you’ve delivered and how the company benefitted from your work.
2. Be confident – it doesn’t help your cause to slump into the boss’s office with a defeated posture. Make eye contact, be friendly, listen and consider both sides as you discuss the possibilities.
3. Take your time… there’s no need to jump at the first offer. Count to 10 before your respond. Make sure you’ve done your homework and know what this position is typically paid in your market.
4. Timing is everything, so be sure you’re not approaching the boss during a crisis, but do it before your performance review, when he/she may have already made decisions about increases for the team.
5. Focus on what you can do, as well as what you’ve done. Bring a printed “brag” sheet listing your awards, accomplishments and testimonials.
6. Know the exact number you’re hoping for and ask for more than that to start the conversation. If you have a firm number in mind, the employer will assume you’ve done your homework.