The $5,000 Career Mistake

Author: Angela Campiere       

This week, CNBC launched a new reality series on cable TV, called “The Job Interview.” Each half-hour episode in the series “takes an inside look at the world where the words you say, the clothes you wear, and even the expression on your face can mean the difference between success and failure,” according to the website.

A show devoted to giving people a fly-on-the-wall experience as a real employer conducts a real interview demonstrates the appetite among the viewing public to learn how to ace an interview in today’s competitive business environment.

But it’s just the first step. As a candidate, you’ll likely have several more hoops to jump through — including more interviews with others in the company — before landing a job offer. And before you crack open that bottle of champagne and update your LinkedIn profile, you need to make sure that you don’t skip one more important step: negotiating your salary.

Because a new survey by CareerBuilder shows that your prospective new employer may have low-balled your compensation offer. According to the survey, 53 percent of employers are willing to negotiate your salary with you. Yet only 44 percent of new employees take advantage of that. Need more incentive? More than half of employers said they typically offer a lower initial salary to give their new hire room to negotiate.

So how much money is being left on the table? It could be as much as $5,000 annually, according to 26 percent of the employers surveyed.

Negotiating your salary is your chance to show your value to your new employer, so set yourself up for long-term success — and potentially more cash in your pocket — with these negotiation tips.

Understand Your Market Value

There are numerous tools available to help you determine how much money you should be making. These projections are based on such factors as your current job title, location, and years of experience. Resources like Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool can help you calculate your market value and can give you some important insight and data to back up your request for a higher starting salary.

Think Beyond Cash

Your base salary typically accounts for only 70 percent of your total compensation, according to the “Changing Jobs: Top Financial Considerations Beyond Salary” guide from Northwestern Mutual. You should consider other compensation items like the company’s 401(k) match plan, paid time off, work-from-home flexibility, and continued education reimbursement. These benefits and perks, while not cash, can help you in the long-term when you consider your professional development, future financial security, and work-life balance.

Play Fair

According to the CareerBuilder survey, 47 percent of employees avoid negotiating their salary because they’re afraid it will lead the employer to renege on their offer, and 36 percent don’t want to appear greedy. Asking for more money doesn’t make you seem greedy if you are reasonable in your approach. Giving your new employer an ultimatum can hurt your credibility — and likability — so be open to the conversation and listen to any constraints, limitations, or regulations they have when it comes to raising your compensation.

Of course, salary negotiation isn’t just for new hires. Find out what you can do to secure that big promotion.

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