Salary Negotiation Missteps: 6 Mistakes to Avoid

negotiate a better salaryYou aced the interview and now you’ve received a job offer, so you’re ready to break out the champagne. Not so fast. You still have to negotiate your salary, a process that can be tricky and full of potential missteps. Here are six common salary negotiation mistakes creatives make and how to avoid them:

The Creative Group, HOW’s official career partner, offers even more salary advice online.

1. Not doing your homework. Enter negotiations with a solid understanding of current salary trends in the creative field. User experience designers and mobile designers, for example, will likely have more negotiating power than other specialties because they’re in high demand. Factors such as your location and the size of the company making the offer (and the firm’s financial standing) also can impact salary ranges. Review compensation sources, such as The Creative Group’s online Salary Center, to avoid having unrealistic expectations.

2. Settling – or not negotiating at all. Simply accepting whatever offer comes your way can have financial consequences that can impact you for years to come. You may earn less, receive smaller raises or have a smaller pension. In addition, agreeing to a salary you feel is too low can lead to resentment toward your employer and overall decreased job satisfaction. As long as you negotiate professionally and keep a positive attitude, the worst that can happen is that your request will be turned down.

3. Playing games. You never want a potential employer to leave a negotiation feeling like they were haggling with a used car salesman. Tactics like mentioning another job offer to try to get an employer to give you more money almost always backfire. The hiring manager may call your bluff or let you walk away.

4. Focusing on personal needs rather than value. Don’t base your request for a higher starting salary on the fact that you want a new car or need to pay off your son’s college tuition. You’ll make a much more compelling argument by talking about the value you bring to the organization. If you’re applying for a creative services manager role, for instance, talk about how you saved your last employer time and money by reducing the turnover rate within the creative department – and how you’d do the same at a new firm.

5. Considering money alone. Salary is only part of the equation. Before starting negotiations, take stock of the whole package. Generous benefits may compensate for a lower starting salary, for example. Some firms offer perks such as tuition reimbursement or on-the-job training. Also consider whom you’ll be working for and whether he or she is someone you can learn from. Will you be taking on high-profile, portfolio-boosting projects? Myriad opportunities to expand your skill set may make up for a less-than stellar staring salary.

6. Drawing a line in the sand. Even if an offer is much lower than what you were expecting, remain professional, open-minded and committed to pursuing a mutually acceptable agreement. Giving ultimatums too early in the process may cause negotiations to fall apart; instead, look for common ground and avoid taking an adversarial stance. How you conduct yourself during the process sets the tone for employment with the firm, and you want to start on the right foot.

Finally, if negotiations aren’t successful and you decide to walk away from an opportunity, remember to do so gracefully. You never know when you might encounter the hiring manager again.


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