What Not to Say When Negotiating Salary

Bill Rybinski
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Salary negotiations can make even veteran workers worried. Whether you've just made it past the interview stage or have been working at the same company for years, negotiating a tech job salary can be challenging. To avoid accidentally hurting your economic future, here are a few things you should not mention when haggling over your wages.

  1. Talking about financial woes: According to NerdWallet.com, the average American household owes a little over $15,000 in credit card debt. While the boss may empathize with your concerns over being able to pay the bills, talking about your financial problems won't net you any more money. As impersonal as it sounds, salary negotiations are a business transaction between you and the company. Bringing up personal matters only makes you sound unprofessional and may even weaken your stance.
  1. Revealing your minimum: This is a common mistake inexperienced negotiators make. When you reveal the minimum amount of money you're willing to accept, you don't leave much room for salary negotiations. In fact, chances are pretty good the employer's offer will magically match the number you give. You should put off giving a number until the employer makes the first offer. If you're pressed for an answer, select a reasonable number that's higher than the lowest offer you'd accept. This increases your chances of getting the tech job salary you want.
  1. Discounting your worth: The current state of the job market has many technology professionals hesitant to ask what they're worth during salary negotiations out of fear of being passed over for the job or coming across as too expensive to keep. While those concerns are valid, that doesn't mean you have to give the employer a discount on your salary requirements. An example of this is telling the person your market rate is $75,000 but that you'll accept $65,000. This come across as desperate and may, conversely, leave the person questioning the quality of your work.
  1. Saying "no": The goal of salary negotiations is to arrive at a numerical figure that will make both parties happy. For one reason or another, though, negotiations will come to an impasse. Saying no to an offer outright has a ring of finality to it and can make it difficult to continue the negotiations at a later date. Instead of abruptly declining an offer, probe for the reason why the company is not able to meet your salary requirements. Asking, "What barriers stand in the way of offering X amount of money?" can lead to an alternative but equally satisfying resolution—particularly if you negotiate for benefits rather than cash.

Negotiating is a lot like playing poker. To get what you want, you'll have to spend time evaluating the other players and avoid showing your cards early. Learning how to bluff a little can also help you win at salary negotiations.

(Photo courtesy of anankkml / freedigitalphotos.net)

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