*Originally published on Payscale

Scared of salary negotiation? You’re not alone. A recent survey by Payscale found that 28 per cent of people that had never negotiated salary refrained from doing so because they were uncomfortable talking about money.

We get it. Discussions about money can feel awkward or taboo, but it’s important not to let that stop you from getting what is a fair price for your skills and services. If you don’t negotiate, you could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. And this goes for people just starting out too – even if you’re looking at your very first job, it’s important to get the best salary you can. This is the first step in ensuring you maximize your earnings over your lifetime.

Sure, I know it’s easier said (or typed) than done, but there are a few things to keep in mind to help you get started on the rights salary path.

Here are four common negotiation mistakes to avoid whenever the conversation veers towards salary.

Negotiating by email

Want to know why Internet comments are so mean and spiteful? It’s because people feel more confident when they don’t have to talk to someone face to face. That’s just human nature, but when it comes to salary negotiation, you’ll want to step out of your comfort zone, and that means negotiating in person or on the phone.

The risk with email is that your tone can easily be misinterpreted, and salary negotiation can be a sensitive issue. It’s also much harder (and risky) to interject some humour into the discussion.

Use email instead as a tool to schedule phone calls and meetings, and save some face time for the nitty gritty.

Overlooking other perks

While salary is certainly important, don’t lose sight of what initially attracted you to a job in the first place. Whether it’s the impressive title, a chance to develop new skills, or an excellent benefits package, keep it in mind so that you don’t push for an unrealistic salary. Money isn’t everything when it comes to job satisfaction.

Similarly, are there any other things that would improve productivity and your work-life balance? Would you like to work from home more often? Do you want more vacation time? These should be part of any compensation discussion, so make sure you know what’s important to you.

Being afraid to make the opening offer

It goes against conventional wisdom, but if you wait for the company to bring the first salary offer, you could be missing out. The anchoring principle gives you the advantage. If you throw out the first number or range, you are then setting the parameters of the conversation.

Don’t be afraid to get the conversation rolling, but make sure you know what you’re talking about before bringing it up. Do your research into the position, organization, and common salaries for your job title.

Giving into your nerves

The most crucial element of negotiating salary is to remember that the person you’re negotiating with expects it. It’s a routine part of both the recruiting and job seeking process, so try not to let your nerves dissuade you from negotiation.

Don’t rush yourself or the conversation. Come prepared with current research, and make sure your requests are in line with industry standards. Most of all, though, don’t simply accept the first number that’s offered. Just keep repeating: this is part of the process.

Good luck!


 See also:

How to read the hiring manager’s mind during a salary negotiation

5 salary negotiation tricks to raise the offer

So, how much are we earning? The average Canadian salaries by industry and region

Why women should always negotiate their salary (especially in tech)



– Follow Workopolis on Twitter

– Sign up for the Workopolis Weekly newsletter

– Listen to Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast