Money is not the easiest topics for having a conversation. Things can get even trickier when the conversation is about your salary. For many, talking about this is a discussion they’d rather avoid.

The statistics speak this loud and clear. According to Glassdoor, 59% of employees accept the salary they are being offered without ever negotiating it. But perhaps the worse statistics is how only one in ten employees managed to successfully negotiate a salary. Therefore, even when you break the first barrier, you might hit a brick wall.

The reason many fail to negotiate salary successfully is down to a few key mistakes people make. You can boil these down to ten most common and devastating mistakes in terms of salary success.

So, let’s look at the ten mistakes you must avoid when negotiating your salary.


The biggest mistake you can make is to not negotiate. Getting a job offer is exciting – your hard work is about to pay off and you’re finally getting that job you want. But in all that excitement, you might end up making a bad mistake and simply agreeing to whatever the employer is suggesting.

Similarly, you might be in your job, have added responsibilities and still stick to the same salary you’ve always had for months on end.

It’s not that employers are actively looking to screw you over. Indeed, according to a Creative Group study, over 60% of executives are prepared to negotiate the initial offer they make to an employee. Furthermore, you should remember the business will always look for its own interests and sometimes they might simply forget to consider certain benefits outright. You need to be sure you know just what you’re settling for and never settle for a deal that isn’t actually worth it.

Studies show that people who don’t negotiate their salaries tend to end up earning less in the long run! Indeed, one study has said those who don’t negotiate might lose up to $600,000 over the course of their working lives.

You can seriously hurt your earning potential later down the line and if you end up with less than adequate pay, you might even feel a lack of motivation at work.

How to avoid this mistake?

There are two important things you must do in order to avoid this mistake. Prior to getting an offer, you should have an idea of what your worth is.

Use a salary calculator or follow our guides to get a good grasp of what you should be getting. Have a lowest acceptable limit in mind and think about the other benefits that might make you feel happy to accept a job offer, even if the salary isn’t quite what you want.

The second component is to simply stay calm and automatically ask the employer for time to go over the deal. You need the response of, “Thank you so much for the offer. I can’t wait to go over the deal and then get back to you,” come out of your mouth in a heartbeat.


You will have to fight your corner and stay strong when it comes to salary negotiations. But you have to remember you’re not the only party in this conversation and the employer also has reasons for suggesting specific figures.

You are making a huge mistake if you appear to be inflexible and if you focus only on what you want to get out of the discussion. Just talking about your demands won’t get you very far – in fact, it’s going to help you get a better deal if you focus also on what the company can get out of the negotiations.

Negotiations always involve two sides and understanding the other argument can make it easier for you to argue your case. By knowing what the pain points for the employer might be in terms of salary, you can put their minds at ease by answering them directly.

How to avoid making this mistake?

You should research the employer and know a few things. You should:

  • Be aware of the kind of salaries and compensation packages they generally offer. It’s unlikely they would give you a very different deal to anyone else.
  • Know what kind of financial situation the company currently ask. Demanding a high pay when the company seems to be laying off staff, for example, might seem inappropriate and impossible for the company to fulfill.

If you focus on those two points, you get a better understanding of what the employer might be willing and able to pay. You need to remember to stay realistic and flexible.


The basis of negotiating and doing so successfully is all about research. You’re making a huge mistake if you get into the negotiations without researching:

  • Average salaries in that role
  • Average salaries in the company
  • Your actual worth and value
  • Benefits and perks aside from the salary

You can lose out on a proper salary by simply throwing random figures in the air and then settling for whatever you think is good. If the employer notices that you don’t know what you’re talking about and what the market conditions are, then they can give you a bad deal – or get second thoughts about hiring someone with such lack of preparation.

How to avoid this mistake?

You have a range of online tools available to conduct research on those all-important points mentioned above. You can find salary and company information from sites like:

You should also look at the company website and the job profiles to ensure you understand the responsibilities and tasks you need to perform in the role. Finally, it can be helpful to talk to your network and get their perspectives on the company, the current salary markets and your talent.


Just as it can be tempting to overlook the negotiations altogether, you might also feel like you have to make your decision or counteroffer quickly. Rushing your decision to accept or to reject the salary can seem tempting but it would be another big mistake.

Accepting a salary is a big decision – it can have a huge impact on your career. You don’t want to make the decision in haste only to regret it later. As mentioned, it could hurt your future earning potential, damage your career progress, and ruin your motivation.

How to avoid this mistake?

It’s important to take your time when considering your response. You have to remember the key steps of response:

  • Thank about the offer.
  • Repeat the offer and ask for it to be sent to you so you have it all written down.
  • Ask time to go over the details (at least a day or two).
  • Thank again for the offer and reiterate when you’ll get back to it.

You then simply have to sit down and perhaps even write down your initial thoughts. Consider it more and have a discussion with your family or friends, as well as anyone you feel would be able to give you advice. Sleep on the offer and go over it again – consider all the different options before you renegotiate or reject or accept the offer.


One of the biggest negotiating mistakes in any negotiation is to reveal your negotiating position. You do not want the employer to know what your limit is right from the get-go. You have to maintain a poker face.

This is especially crucial in terms of the minimum salary you’re willing to accept. If you tell the employer that “X” amount of money is your lowest acceptable figure, you are inviting them to just stick to that figure. What reason would they have to pay you any more when they know you’d accept less?

Financially it wouldn’t make sense; as a business, they want their expenses to remain low.

How to avoid this mistake?

The employer might ask you for a figure during the job interview or around the time they are willing to make an offer. The way to avoid revealing too much is to conceal any figures during this time and simply focus on saying you believe you will be able to reach a good agreement when the time comes to it.

First, if you’re asked about your salary figures prior to receiving an offer, you could:

  • Simply say:
    • To me, it’s important to find a job that I can contribute in and do my best and I believe when this happens, the right salary will follow.”
    • I believe that we can talk about the salary once we’ve talked a bit more about my role and made sure I’m the right fit for the company.”
    • Perhaps you can let me know just what kind of expectations you have for me in regards of the role and then we can consider what I bring to the table.

If you’re asked about your salary hope during the negotiation, it’s important to remember to:

  • Always give a salary range that’s higher than your absolute red line.
  • Focus on a realistic figure both in terms of what the employment market is showing and what the company can afford.


As mentioned above, your salary package often contains more than just the lump sum of money you get for the work you do. It’s important to remember, then, that you shouldn’t focus your negotiations just on the salary.

There are plenty of other monetary and non-monetary benefits you should consider before you decide whether a salary offer is good or bad.

You should consider any non-salary item that might be important to you and make the job offer even more enticing. It’s more likely you’ll end up with a better deal because it might be that the employer can’t budge much with the salary but they can make adjustments with other benefits.

How to avoid this mistake?

Think prior to your salary negotiations what other non-salary items you’re interested in and which might be enough even if the pay isn’t exactly what you want. Non-salary items can be other monetary and non-monetary benefits such as:

  • Bonuses and commissions
  • An agreed raise in the future
  • Paid or non-paid vacation time
  • Healthcare
  • Pension or investment schemes
  • Membership to gym, movie theatre and other such clubs
  • Childcare
  • Discount schemes

It might even be something to do with your work. For example, you could negotiate flexible work hours that allow you to choose your own work hours or to work from home.

There are many such perks you might ask for that can make the job offer more appealing and valuable to you.


You’re making a big mistake if you frame the negotiations around your needs. Of course, we all need a salary to live and to maintain a lifestyle but this isn’t a reason for the employer – they don’t need to give you money just because you need it.

If you say things like, “Well, I really need at least $50k to live”, you are making the negotiations just about you and that’s not the point here. Your salary has to reflect the value you provide to the employer. The employer will pay you because you also add to the value the organization has and can make.

You simply won’t be able to convince an employer to pay you more if you don’t convince them of the value you can provide. The bottom line is that it’s not about needs it’s about value.

How to avoid this mistake?

The most important thing here is to know your worth. The above points have already directed you to different resources and tools that allow you to calculate your worth. It’s essential to do this research – it will help you in the negotiations.

Another point to add here is the importance of presenting your argument with strong proof and facts. You don’t want to just say that your worth is X but you have to show why it’s X.

Here’s a good example of a good and a bad argument for your salary:

The bad argument:

“According to my research, a salary of $40k would best reflect the value I can bring to the company.”

The good argument:

“I think my previous record shows that a salary of $40k would reflect my value. As you can see from this value portfolio I created, in my previous role I was in charge of a similar portfolio than I would in this role and I managed to increase sales by 40% just in three months. I think a similar scheme I ran there would boost the sales here too and I have this report here of some points for you to look at.”

The good example works because it:

  • Quantifies your achievements and highlights the actual value you’ve created in previous roles.
  • Shows that you have experience in similar kind of tasks or roles.
  • Tells the employer you already have ideas on how to succeed in the role and add to the value.


Money is among those topics people find uncomfortable to talk about.

According to PayScale’s study, 28% of people find negotiating salary uncomfortable, with nearly 20% of respondents saying they don’t negotiate out of a fear of being seemed pushy.

Because of this, many might feel like it’s a good idea to keep the conversation limited and to just rely on the power of e-mail. But hiding behind e-mail will hurt your negotiating power.

There are many problems with e-mail negotiations. First of all, it’s not practical. Replies can take longer and you don’t know when to expect a response.

You also can’t read the person’s body language and this plays an important role. You can’t see if they seem irritated, happy, annoyed, panicked and so on – those little cues you might be able to read when you’re talking face-to-face.

How to avoid this mistake?

It’s important to set up meetings to discuss the offer. You might receive the offer via e-mail (and as the next point will show, it’s important to have a written record of it) and you can respond initially with e-mail. However, you have to set up a meeting to discuss your thoughts and to conduct the actual negotiation.

Therefore, you might respond by thanking for the offer, asking for a bit of time to go over it and then requesting a meeting to discuss it in person. If the employer for some reason insists on settling it via e-mails or phone, stay stern and just say you would feel more comfortable discussing these things in person. If for some reason they don’t seem to agree, well, it might not be such a good place to work after all!


You might have noticed in the previous points how you’re asked to ask the offer in writing. Not asking for the offer in writing can indeed be a big mistake to make. There are two important points to this.

First, you are better able to remember just what is being offered. You might be so excited when the offer comes in that you’re not properly listening to the different numbers and figures being mentioned. As the negotiations move on you might be mixed up with all the numbers you’ve discussed.

Therefore, by having it written down, you know just what the current offer is and you’re all talking about the same thing.

Second is the importance of having it written down in a legal standpoint. Again, it’s not to say that the employer might willingly want to lead you on but you won’t have many guarantees of anything if all you have is, “But they said so”. By getting the offer in writing, you have proof that everyone has agreed to this and that figure and benefits.

How to avoid this mistake?

Before you even start negotiating or thinking about an offer, you always want to ask the employer to send you the offer in writing. Even with the initial offer. As you start negotiating and you reach another offer, ask that in writing as well.

It’s crucially important to ask for the final offer in writing, too.

Do not accept an offer before you also have a written copy of it.


Finally, of the major mistakes people make when negotiating a salary, or talking about money in general, is to take it personally. You shouldn’t be emotionally invested in the negotiations and you shouldn’t take it personally at any point.

This can be easier said than done. After all, your salary is essentially a reflection of your worth. However, the employer doesn’t mean your value as a human is this or that. If you start adding emotions to the mix, you will end up hurting your negotiating power.

Never threaten the employer during the negotiations. You’ll make a huge mistake by giving ultimatums or by trying to play the sympathy card. You must realize that, while it might not be easy, the employer can always find someone else to do the job. In the current job market, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be irreplaceable.

How to avoid this mistake?

You can avoid this problem from arising by reminding yourself that the salary is always a business decision. Employers don’t pay a salary based on just what they think you deserve as a human – you can be the nicest person on the planet. This is business. The person deciding your salary might well think you should get more but the company might simply not have the financial means to offer it.

If you find yourself getting emotional about the offer at any point during the negotiations, just take a moment. Breath in and remember that this isn’t personal, it’s just business. Do the research on the company and your own worth and you’ll know just what the realistic expectations are.

This will give you the confidence to move on with the negotiations.


As the examples above show, you could really damage your earning potential by making negotiating mistakes. It’s important to keep a cool head and understand that negotiating is part of the deal of getting a good salary. You just have to:

Do your research

Focus on your value

Understand the employer’s position

Leave the emotions out of it

If you focus on these four points, you can avoid these top ten negotiating mistakes and get the salary you deserve!

10 Salary Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid

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