10 Mistakes People Make When Negotiating

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

I recently interviewed Kate Dixon for Job Search TV on YouTube, Amazon, Roku, and elsewhere about mistakes people make when negotiating the total compensation. It may be available on No BS Job Search Advice Radio by the time you read this. Kate is the author of “Pay Up!: Unlocking Insider Secrets of Salary Negotiation.

Here’s a summary of the points she made. You can watch the complete interview here.

10. You treat the negotiation like it’s a cage match. You fight to the death and cause damage to your reputation in the process. Thus, when you join the new firm, you lose the halo new hires usually have.

9. Practicing in your head and not out loud. Just like in an interview, rehearsing what you’re going to say in your head and not speaking it leaves you prone to making mistakes. Make the mistakes in mock negotiations, not in the actual negotiation.

8. Listening to Uncle Hank. Maybe it is Uncle Ramesh or your Aunt Sumi or Brother Julius. Many people believe they know better how to negotiate, even though they’ve only done it a few times. Even people who have negotiated as part of hiring someone only know how to do it from their employer’s standpoint, not others. Taking advice from the wrong people can prove costly.

7. Don’t wing it. Amateurs do that. Professional athletes and entertainers all rehearse.

6. Getting hung up on little things. They are paying for a complete relocation, a $50 or $100,000 increase in your compensation, giving you a promotion, and you fixate on the gym membership that your current employer has (that you can’t use now anyway) that will now cost you $400.

5. Being unclear. Going into a negotiation uncertain about what will make you say yes and, as importantly, allow you to walk away from it and turned down the offer puts you in the position of making a decision based upon a whim, not a want.

4. Only spending a few minutes on the offer materials. The offer letter arrives with a book full of benefits information. You skim the offer letter and never open up the benefits information. What happens if you accept an offer, join and discover a term in it that is costly? What happens if they forget to put that item that you negotiated into the letter? You are out of luck. Take the time to read everything.

3. Giving away your power so that they think you are nice. Women are conscious about doing this. Men are unconscious about it. Their version of this is “going with the flow” or “being a team player.” They win. You lose. But you are nice. You’re also dumb.

2. Taking things personally. Al Pacino in the Godfather movie puts it very well. “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Each of you is trying to get something that you want. Neither of you may not like it. It’s strictly business.

1. Accepting the offer on the spot. There’s a lot of stress involved in negotiating and accepting an offer. You don’t do it very often. Why can’t you at least take the evening to think about whether or not this is the right opportunity for you, the correct total reward for you to do it, and what will happen once you’re on board in the new role?

Your career is important to you.

You need to be compensated appropriately for your labor.

Avoiding these mistakes is critical because the consequences of them can be both costly and damaging.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “NoCareer Angles | Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV on YouTube, Amazon and Roku, as well as on BingeNetworks.tv for Apple TV and 90+ smartsets.

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