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Mistakes to avoid when negotiating salary

You need to ensure that the offer on the table is fair compared to the market

Gulf News

At any discussion of a job offer, money — or the overall remuneration package — can be a deal breaker.

Negotiating an attractive deal, however, can be hard for many job candidates whether because they lack the necessary give-and-take skills, the future employer is tight on budget or simply because they are too concerned that pushing for a good package can cost them the job in itself.

These factors, and many more, certainly can be hurdles, but it doesn’t mean that you give up on trying to get the best deal you can get in the opportunity that is almost in your hands.

Needless to say, if money isn’t a big factor in your decision, you still need to make sure that the deal you’re accepting is fair compared to what’s offered in the market — even if it is at the lower end. Selling yourself short once can impact your future salaries and set you back financially — when and if the situation changes and money becomes a bigger factor.

Here are four common mistakes that many jobseekers commit in negotiating money and other perks.

Negotiating too early

Timing is of essence in any negotiation — and negotiating a salary too early in the process can cost you dearly. Many employers, in fact, rank this as one of the biggest mistakes job candidates often do. The best timing to begin a package discussion is after you and your future are nearly sure that you’ve been selected for the position.

This gives you an edge — as a selected candidate — to negotiate from a point of strength. However, be mindful of how far this money discussion is part of the final decision. You will need to be realistic — after collecting as much as possible about the employer’s pay scales — in demanding a package that can be delivered.

Abandoning professionalism

It is not uncommon that people, after going through a pretty long recruitment process, can be shocked that the salary or benefits offered are significantly below their expectations. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t just abandon your professional attitude and throw a fit. This likely will get you nowhere — except the door.

There are two options to this situation: the first is that the employer is inflexible with the budget, and in this case, you may just leave it there and make a graceful exit from the hiring process.

The second option is that there is some negotiation room for the hiring manager with other decision makers in the organization. If this is the case, you may be surprised that a final push with a positive attitude and a well-delivered presentation about your skills and market price can get you closer to your projected package. Still, if this is not acceptable, you don’t have to take it.

Just accepting

It is totally understandable that if a person has been unemployed, getting any job with a paycheck may be a step forward. You must be mindful; however, that taking a job that you know won’t be covering your basic expenses is unfair to yourself and your future employer. You will begin this job with a plan to leave as soon as you land something else. This is not a recipe for doing yourself and investing into the job.

In addition, you may feel particularly resentful of the job as financial pressures mount. To avoid this fate, answer two questions. The first is: what are the odds of getting a better-paying job if I wait?

The second is: how am I going to balance my income and expenses if I take this job or if I wait? If you’ve a way like an additional income that can make the option to wait affordable, perhaps this will make more sense.

Ignoring benefits

Beware of the details of the package because each minor change can cost – or save – thousands of dirhams every year. For example, if you’re in a job that pays for children tuition, airfare or rent, this may not be offset with just a slightly larger monthly salary.

Don’t take anything for granted, and make sure if a point isn’t mentioned in the initial job offer, you get it clarified as early as possible – at least verbally.

In most markets, including the United Arab Emirates, you can find a great disparity within one organization between salaries and benefits, particularly if you compare those of employees hired before the global financial crisis and afterward. Be sure therefore that you know what is in the package you’re accepting.

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a journalist based in Seattle.