January 20, 2022

Salary Negotiation Mistakes

I used to be so scared of negotiating an offer. I was listening to that BS advice out there: “…just be grateful you got an offer, take the job & once you’re in they’ll see how great you are and will give you a raise…” THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS‼️

Over the past decade, I’ve been on both sides of the negotiation table multiple times. As a job seeker, I’ve made many mistakes; as a recruiter and hiring manager, I’ve seen the mistakes other job seekers have made. I’ve learned from these mistakes, and now I help my clients successfully negotiate their salaries.

In this post, I’m sharing some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made when it comes to salary negotiation and will share all of the tips that have helped me and my clients always get more money!


Getting Over the Fear of Negotiation

So let me back up a little to how I ended up being someone who always negotiates.

I hate rejection (I know everyone does, but I legit HATE rejection). So I was afraid that they would rescind the offer if I negotiated after getting a job offer. Plus, I wasn’t even getting interviews for so many years, let alone offers. So I bought into the idea that not negotiating would show them I was grateful.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I had pretty much blown through my savings & desperately needed a job. I was offered a full-time role making $20k less than I needed to pay my bills. The job seemed perfect, but it wasn’t enough to pay for my life. So I was forced to negotiate.

So I sat down and wrote a script. I called the recruiter and read it word for word (robot style). I said something similar to what I shared here: https://bit.ly/3gGeu5H. I ended up getting $25k more plus additional benefits. 🤑🎉 If you include the cost of the additional benefits, I ended up negotiating $40k more than the original offer.

It turns out that offer meant they wanted to work with me too! So I didn’t need to be scared.

So that’s the first thing you have to keep in mind: Hiring is stressful and expensive for companies; when they extend an offer, it’s because they want to work with you! Negotiating doesn’t mean that you’re ungrateful; it means that you’re aware of what you bring to the table.


Negotiate Early on in the Process

The second mistake that I want to chat about is one that I made after that job. Fast forward a couple of years, and that startup ended up going in a direction that I wasn’t comfortable with, so once again, I was on the hunt for a job. This time I knew I was for sure going to negotiate. I had my script! I was so focused on getting to the offer phase that I neglected to set the stage for the negotiation from the get-go. So during my first call with the recruiter, when she asked about my salary expectations, I blanked! I hadn’t done the research and didn’t know the market rate for someone with my skills for that specific job. So when she asked, I said I was focused on learning more about the job and seeing if it was a great fit and that I would be open to an offer that was fair. And although there’s nothing terribly wrong with that answer, what I learned after four interviews, was that we weren’t even playing on the same field. They offered me a number so low; I won’t even say it. The top of their budget was way less than what I had made in years. So I ended up wasting my time and their time. You’ll hear many influencers tell you never to give out a number or a range first. There are even some recruiters who have been trained to never say a number until it’s time for an offer. And this was one of those recruiters. So we ended up playing a stupid game of cat and mouse that ended with all of us wasting time.

After that situation, I’ve learned to always do my research before the initial call and talk about salary early on. These are some of my favorite sites for salary research – https://bit.ly/32hUGSM



I’ve also learned to always be selling! During the interview process, set the stage for the negotiation by articulating your value in every interaction. The answer to every question should point to why you are the person for the role. This approach will help make your case when it’s time to negotiate.

This is my go-to answer during the initial stages for the interview – https://bit.ly/33AZFi8

If a company wants to pass on me because I am “motivated by money,” then so be it. I can’t pay my bills with passion and growth potential, so yeah, let’s make sure you can afford me before we waste any more time.


Don’t Make it About You

The third mistake I want to talk about is how you frame your salary negotiation. Earlier this year, I had a video make the rounds on TikTok; this is what I shared 👉🏾 https://bit.ly/32ok614. Many people dismissed it, saying no one would ever say Want when negotiating their salary. Well, let me tell you, I’ve heard it MULTIPLE times. I distinctly remember one of the first offers I extended when I went into full-time recruiting. Let’s call her Jenny. She is a software project manager; at that time, she had just made the switch from teaching to the tech industry and was excited to land her first full-time tech job. She interviewed perfectly, and the team was excited to hire her. I had spoken to her about salary, I was upfront about the range (cause I’m the type of recruiter that just tells people the salary, don’t have time to play games), and she had confirmed she was ok with the range. Given what we learned about Jenny and her experience, we offered a salary within that range that we thought was aligned with her skills and experience. She replied to the offer via email and said: Thanks, Rhona; I want more than that. I want at least 100k. I’ve got bills to pay, and the main reason I switched to tech was to make six figures.

Jenny did not end up working with us. The hiring manager took her email as her declining the offer, and they chose not to enter into a negotiation with Jenny. Not because this hiring manager didn’t want to negotiate, actually this was not the case. They were prepared to negotiate. Unfortunately, Jenny made a few mistakes in how she approached her negotiation:

  • She negotiated via email. I don’t recommend this; this is a conversation that should be had in person, over a video call, or even over a phone call. But an email is too impersonal and will cause the other party to put up a wall.
  • She framed her negotiation as a want. What I’m about to say was NOT very popular on TikTok, but I stand by it. COMPANIES DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT. Hiring is a business transaction, and it’s not about what one party wants over the other. If you want to get more money, stick to facts. Do your research when it comes to salary, make sure to keep track of what they’ve praised about you throughout the interview process, and use their words when you remind them what you bring to the table and why you’re worth what you’re asking for.


Companies Will Pay You What they THINK you’re worth

So there you go. Three stories, a few mistakes, and tips on how to avoid making these mistakes. There’s a lot more where that came from. The most important thing I want you to remember is this: At the end of the day, you can read off all of the scripts and take all of this advice, but you need to have shown them why you’re worth what you’re asking for, and that’s what a personal brand does for you.

Salary negotiation starts way before the interview. It actually starts the second you’re considered for the job. When a salary negotiation is unsuccessful, it’s because the other party does not see the value. This is a hill I’m willing to die on; no one will ever pay you what you’re worth, they’ll pay you what they THINK you’re worth, and your personal brand is one of the most powerful tools you have to control the narrative. And if you think you don’t have a personal brand, you’re wrong. If you’re breathing, you have a personal brand.


2 Responses

  1. Absolutely LOVED this post! Thanks for writing it. It was very helpful as I’ve NEVER negotiated for my salary and it is a muscle I need to develop.

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