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10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Negotiating for More Pay

Research appearing in the Journal of Organizational Behavior reveals that when new hires decide to negotiate their pay, they gain an additional $5,000 a year, which adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the span of a career.

Professionals usually tend to be uncomfortable with salary negotiations. Sometimes, it’s a lack of self-confidence. At other times, they simply fear that they will be disliked or have their request rejected. Employers expect you to negotiate, however, and often attempt to low-ball you. If you don’t take advantage of an opportunity to negotiate, you leave considerable money on the table, all unclaimed.

When to negotiate

Usually, salaries are most effectively negotiated right before you accept a new job offer. If you’ve impressed a hiring manager enough to get a job offer, you have what they need, and you are in a good position to begin negotiations. You can negotiate when you have a positive performance review. It’s also good idea to negotiate when you’ve had a successful year, and the company’s new fiscal year is about to start. When the company plans its new budget, you can get a word in about a raise.

When you decide to bring up the subject of a raise with your boss, remember that length of service isn’t what matters. Instead, you need to be able to talk about the number of wins that you have had over the past year, and what makes you a valuable employee.

The following mistakes should be avoided when you negotiate your salary:

You value your work too little

Often, if a raise isn’t forthcoming on its own, you’re likely to rationalize why, and tell yourself that it’s probably because you haven’t been on the job for long enough, or because it’s been a rough year for the industry. Such rationalizations often only disguise timidity. You should compare your pay to what others across the industry make. Use salary comparison websites for research.

You are psychologically unprepared for negotiations

While you do need to write down a list of all your achievements over the year and prepare with numbers to prove that you’ve made a difference, you also need practice saying your piece. You should practice out loud in front of a mirror. It’ll help you with your delivery when it counts.

You worry about what your boss will think of you

If you have proof of your accomplishments, and you know what your position calls for through research online, you do have a good case. Chances are low that you will offend your boss by appearing greedy.

You bring up the subject of a raise when it isn’t the right time

You need to bring up salary negotiations when you feel confident, and when your boss has enough time. It wouldn’t be the right time to talk when your boss is due to leave for a meeting. If possible, you should schedule an appointment with your boss just to be able to talk about your raise.

You talk about your needs, rather than about what your work is worth

It’s important to understand what salary negotiations look like to someone representing the company. They are likely to only care about what they get out of it. For this reason, when you present your case to your boss, you do not need to talk about why you need a raise. Talk about why a raise makes sense given what you have to offer the company.

You use overly polite language that undermines your request

Many people feel so hesitant about asking for a raise that they feel compelled to couch it in overly polite language. They may ask if it’s okay with the company to give them a raise, or if it’s not too much trouble. It’s important to not sound apologetic.

You leave little room for negotiations

When you propose a number for what you hope to be paid, you should expect that the company will try to talk you down. You should ask for a sum higher than you expect. You need to leave room for a little bargaining.

You plan nothing for what to say if they refuse

No matter how fair your case for a raise, you should consider the possibility that your employer will turn you down. You need to plan for what to say when you hear a point-blank refusal. You should consider proposing non-financial benefits to make up for the fact that there is no monetary raise forthcoming. You could ask for permission to work from home, or for more vacation time.

You sound like you’re making a demand or a threat

Salary negotiations are simply about making your case for a bigger salary. They aren’t supposed to be an argument or a debate. You should state all your points to prove that you deserve the raise. If your boss isn’t willing to relent, however, you shouldn’t make it sound as if there will be consequences. You should make sure that your negotiations sound professional.

Putting in a request for a raise doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need to do is to put together a good case, and see what happens. You should remember that your employer actually expects good, confident performers to ask for raises. If you don’t ask for one, you may send out the message that you don’t consider yourself worth more pay.

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