Don’t wimp out in the face of salary negotiations

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We know that, especially in today’s economy, many job seekers are just grateful to receive a job offer. Make no mistake, having a job offer is a reason to celebrate, especially after all the hard work that goes into a job search. But you shouldn’t consider yourself lucky just to have an offer and feel you need to take whatever’s put in front of you.

Today we have a guest post from two authors who remind job seekers how important it the art of salary negotiation is and what it can mean for your long-term income.

Four Ways to Wimp out During Salary Negotiations

By Selena Dehne, JIST Publishing. Featuring excerpted information from Next-Day Job Interview by Michael Farr and Dick Gaither.

Don’t underestimate the importance of negotiating in the job search. In their book “Next-Day Job Interview,” Michael Farr and Dick Gaither share the following example of how powerful a seemingly small boost to a job offer can be.

  1. An 18-year-old high school graduate negotiates for $21,000 per year instead of accepting the $20,000 per year that was initially offered.
  2. That graduate then gets an average 3 percent raise each year.
  3. He or she works for 50 years (normal in today’s world).
  4. The result is that this person ends up with at least $112,000 more during the course of his or her career lifetime than a person who didn’t negotiate for that extra $1,000.

That’s a pretty substantial difference, wouldn’t you say? A mere $1,000 increase to a job offer can prove to be quite rewarding over time. That’s why it’s so important that you give negotiations a chance, rather than skipping the process because you’re too uncomfortable to attach a value to your talents and skills.

As you negotiate, avoid the following mistakes. According to Farr and Gaither, these are some of the most common ways to botch the process.

Mistake #1: Assume that nothing is negotiable.
If you’re concerned that an attempt to negotiate you job offer will offend the potential employer or make you look greedy, don’t fret. According to Farr and Gaither, “More than 80 percent of employers expect some form of negotiation for pay, benefits, perks, work schedules, work locations and so on. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.”

Mistake #2: Throw in the towel too quickly.
“Just because you’re told no, that doesn’t mean the negotiation is over,” say Farr and Gaither. “Salespeople know that the first no is just the start of the sale. Keep plugging away. Patience and persistence are paths to success.”

Mistake #3: Say “yes” too soon.
“Most of the time the first offer isn’t the last offer. And the first offer will usually be lower than the last offer. One theme running through every book on salary negotiation is that interviewees need to delay talking about salary expectations. The longer that an interviewer talks to you, the more likely you’ll be to negotiate better compensation,” explain Farr and Gaither.

Mistake #4: Negotiate just for money.
The employer may not be able to boost your salary or hourly rate, but there are additional ways to sweeten your job offer. According to Farr and Gaither, “If you can’t get the money, you should negotiate for things that translate into money or that make your life easier such as extra vacation time; educational reimbursements; flexible schedules; help in buying tools, computers or software; travel allowances; and so on.”

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST’s Job Search and Career Blog ( Follow her on Twitter at

  1. I love point number four. I write resumes for a living and something I try to counsel my clients on is the intangibles of a job. Do not always chase a paycheck. Look for a job that offers the lifestyle you want.

  2. If negotiating for salary a great technique is to repeat the salary offered and “shut up” for 30 seconds. Example: How does $50,000 sound? You say $50,000.? The Decision Maker (DM) says “yes” Pause 30 seconds.The silence is awkward and the Decision Maker (DM) says What is on your mind? Ypu say “It is an interesting offer, but considering the scope of the position, I was expecting something approachin $60,000.” DM says well let’s get started off on the right foot I can go to $53,000 but that is pushing it. You say sounds great I am excited about the opportunity, I believe we have a great fit as I bring extra value to your bottom line there is one final thing you mentioned a 2 week vacation after a year. I have a prior commitment already planned and would be ready to accept if we could work out a way for me to still honor that commitment. DM says that should not be a problem. You have now negotiated both salary and vacation time increases.

  3. What a load of crap! This advice may have been true years ago, but no longer. Employers have the upper hand in almost all situations now. They have managed to make permanent positions, temp to perm, they have managed to get employees to shoulder the burden of health benefits or simply not offer them, and they have turned what used to be full-time positions into contractor positions. Negotiating is barely workable anymore, much less BEFORE the offer. 50 years? Who keeps a job or stays in the same field even long enough to make that calculation!! Today it is not uncommon to switch jobs several times and even take a step back in pay despite having more experience. I appreciate the helpful intentions of the article, but it actually ticked me off more than it helped me. We had unions at one time in this country for a reason, and it wasn’t because corporations were fair negotiators.

    • @Noeasypleaser

      I completely agree! I always try and get more vacation time vs the 2-weeks which is allotted. I NEVER get anymore and I’ve been in this field for over a decade, often having to jump ship quickly to another company. I never get to go on vacation because of that crap.

      This article ALSO isn’t bringing up the fact that everyone is going to have to sell themselves as independent contractors to get work in the future or else they won’t be able to pay bills. Websites like are popping up everywhere for a reason. Our economy is changing to service-oriented, which means we all have to come up with something that somebody else wants from us or we’re screwed. And guess who will be paying health insurance? You guessed it—US. It’s terrifying thinking about the future of the United States. What if I get sick? I guess my retirement will be nothing more than a bullet in the brain.

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