Few job seekers are prepared to discuss their pay requirements prior to a job offer or to negotiate it well after a job offer is made. As a result of their blunders, many job seekers are eliminated from consideration during the selection process without even knowing why. Others who do get a job offer too often mishandle the discussion of pay in a way that results in their being paid less than they might have received – or losing a job offer they might have accepted.
The fact is that most people don’t negotiate their salaries at all because few know how to negotiate effectively. At one time or another, each of us has probably failed at this process. Most job seekers accept the first offer thrown their way because they’re afraid that negotiating will kill any chances to get the job.
Negotiation experts cite four strategic mistakes that novice negotiators often make. Although these mistakes refer to negotiations in general, they are often at the root of salary negotiation problems as well.
1. Lack of persistence.
3. Going in too low. All too often one side in the negotiation process accepts in advance a settlement that is lower than the other side had in mind. Once a low position is revealed, an experienced negotiator is unlikely to go higher.
4. Lack of research. Few people are prepared with facts to back up their position in negotiations. They go on “fell” to establish a value. Lack of preparation can be a very expensive mistake.
Three Rules of Salary Negotiation
- Early pay discussions can screen you out. Early in the traditional screening process, many employers want to know how much you expect to be paid. Before the interview, they may seek this information on applications and in want ads. And some employers ask you how much you expect to earn very early in the interview process. Just why is this information so important to them? The reason is that many employers don’t want to waste their time with people who have salary expectations far above what they are willing to pay. Put simply, they want the information so that they can screen you out. Employers look for ways to eliminate as many people as possible during the early phases of a traditional interview process. There may be many applicants for an opening, particularly if the job was advertised or is reasonably attractive in some way. Employers will try to find out whether you want more money than they are willing to pay. If so, they figure that, if hired, you may soon leave for a better-paying job.
- Know the probable salary range in advance. Approaching an interview without being prepared for discussions of pay is not wise. Although you will have to do a bit of research, knowing what an employer is likely to pay is essential in salary negotiations. The trick is to think in terms of a wide range in salary, rather than a particular number. Keep in mind that larger organizations tend to pay more than smaller ones, and various areas of the country differ greatly in pay scales. Find out the general range that jobs of this sort are likely to pay in your area. That information is relatively easy to obtain; all it may take is asking those who work in similar jobs, finding the information online or advertisement.
- Bracket the salary range. let’s assume that you have done your homework and you know a range that you are likely to be offered for a given job in your area. And let’s also assume that you run into an interviewer who insists on knowing how much you expect to be paid.