5 Mistakes That Lead To Low-Ball Salaries

{This article was originally published on Work It Daily.}

Rule #1 of salary negotiation: the first offer is never the best one. All companies build in padding in anticipation of a counteroffer, and anyone who tells you otherwise or tries to frame it as a take-it-or-leave-it situation isn’t dealing squarely with you.

Here Are Some Other Mistakes Which Can Result In Low Salaries:

1. Not Providing An Accurate Range

Here’s a simple formula to calculate your salary range:

Total Salary + Perks 3 Years Ago versus Total Salary + Perks Today = Your Salary Range

In other words, if you made $90K base salary 3 years ago with an additional $30K in perks (health, school, discounts, bonuses, and so on.) your first number is $120K.

If today you make a $110K base with $40K in perks, your second number is $150K.

So your range is $120K to $150K.

Expert tip: if you’re looking to make a major jump in terms of job title, your salary range is only part of the story. Once you’ve determined what your current range is, visit sites like Glassdoor.com and Payscale.com to get a clear sense of what professionals who currently hold the job title you want to make.

The difference between what you currently make and what people at this higher tier make will need to be defended by your experience, your unique skill set, and other factors. But you need to have both your present salary range and the target salary range clear in your mind to effectively make this transition.

“Winging It” When It Comes To The Resume And Interview Process

Your resume needs to communicate your unique worth, demonstrate excellent fit for the type of role you’re after, and back it up with quantifiable accomplishments at every turn.

The interview process needs to translate these attributes into a powerful, value-based presentation which shows an employer how you’ll be addressing their greatest challenges.

Excel in these two areas and you will receive a higher initial offer. Fail to do so, and you give an employer free reign to determine your worth. And when that happens, they will always low-ball.

3. Trying To Negotiate At The Moment An Offer Is Made

Time is your best friend when an employer makes that first offer. They want you, they’re willing to put a dollar amount to prove that, and of course they’d prefer to wrap things up quickly.

Hold on!

Be positive. Listen to every word, but offer zero thoughts on the merits (or lack thereof) of the offer itself.

Get all the details at this point, including Days Off, Vacation, Personal Days, Signing Bonus, 401K, Commission, Company Car, Telecommuting/Work from Home, Travel, Expense Account, Health/Life/Disability Insurance, Bonus Structure, Job Reviews (Pay Increase Opportunities), Who You’ll Be Reporting To. Make notes on all of it.

Thank them for the offer, and politely ask for a day or two to review the details and get back to them.

4. Flubbing The Counteroffer

You’ll be broaching the counteroffer either over the phone or in-person. If you have the choice, always negotiate in person (it’s a lot harder to say no to someone face-to-face).

Start right where you left off. In other words, say thank you again for the offer, it’s an honor, can’t wait to work with you, very exciting, and so on. The goal here is to make it clear that you are very much leaning towards accepting an offer with this company.

Now comes the flub…

“Everything about the offer is great. The base salary is workable but based on my years of experience and the responsibilities of the position I was hoping for something closer to __________.”

Don’t say anything after making this counteroffer! Many people make the mistake, when confronted with silence, to over-explain or provide additional details into how they reached this figure, and so on. Nothing you say at this point will strengthen your case, so don’t say anything further.


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