6 Myths about Negotiating Your Salary
I remember my first insurance interview quite vividly. I was told the average salary for the position, and I expected to get exactly that - the average. I went to the interview with the intention to negotiate. I wasn’t ready to work for anything less than average. However, without even knowing, I had set a limit and I wasn’t ready for more, either.
Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. I was so focused on the salary that I didn’t leave space for much else during the interview. I failed to show my passion for the job. However, it was a good experience after all. Are you wondering why?
I busted a myth that most beginners believe: you must get the average.
Let’s bust the 6 most common myths about negotiating your salary for a career in insurance!
1. Aim for the Average
I was guilty of this.
Let me set something straight first: you should definitely know the average salary for the position. Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com aren't only job search sites, they are also good sources of information for salaries by position and field. It’s important to know what other employers are offering for the same position, so you know your worth and don't settle for much less.
Be wary of using federal average salary guides like PayScale. Different areas of the country (and world!) have different costs of living and demand for workers, so find out what competitive employers in your area are offering.
2. Entry-Level Employees Can't Negotiate
Unfortunately, many first-time job hunters believe this myth. They are often so eager to get started in their career that they will accept anything.
Gary Smith, career expert from Careers Booster, explains: “You may accept the first contract you’re offered, but that’s not the best thing to do. Before you accept the job, you must make sure you’re going to be paid fairly for it. Get informed about the salaries in your geographic area. If the employer is offering less, you should tell them that the average salary for the specific position is much higher. When you present the facts, they will be willing to negotiate.”
Not to mention, many employees find that it's way more difficult to re-negotiate a salary down the line (see #4).
So stand your ground and do your research so your future-self doesn't feel short-changed!
3. You Can’t Negotiate When You Don’t Have Experience
First-time job hunters think that without any experience, they don’t have any power to negotiate. Wrong! Think about it: the employer is considering many other candidates at the same time. On average, a corporate job opening receives around 250 resumes.
Hiring managers are extremely careful when making the decision. This means that they want the best candidate even for the entry-level positions. So yes; you do have some bargaining power even when you’re just entering the industry.
4. Starting Salary Isn't That Important
It’s a really common myth. People believe that it’s important just to get the job, regardless of the salary offered. They believe they will get a better-paying position down the line, or put in a year of hard work and receive a well-deserved raise.
However, there’s a catch: this salary will set the path for your future salaries. Annual cost of living raises are often 2-3%, 5% if you're lucky. If you accept a salary of $25,000, for example, that raise won’t make much of a difference. A colleague who negotiated a higher salary for the same position will be getting much more.
Plus, the next time you get a promotion or move on to a new job, you'll have higher salary bargaining power.
5. You Can’t Negotiate When the Economy Is Bad
Let’s get real: the economy is almost always struggling. Employers are always trying to save, so they are hoping to hire good talent for less money. That doesn’t change when the economy improves.
Keep this in mind: most employers will leave room for negotiating, so they will offer a lower salary than the one they are ready to provide. Do negotiate, regardless of the state of the economy.
6. You'll Look Greedy
No way! Total myth. Offering a low pay makes the employer look greedy. Asking for what you deserve makes you look informed. There’s a huge difference, right?
A reasonable employer will expect talented workers to stand up for their rights. They might be testing you with a low offer. If you accept it, they will assume you’re not skilled and confident enough.
So what did we learn after busting these myths? Negotiating is always important. However, you have to do it right. This is a highly competitive market, so you have to prepare well for the interviews. The salary negotiation process is one of the most important aspects of the hiring process. Do it well!
About the author:
Eva Wislow is a career coach and HR Executive from Pittsburgh. She is on a mission to help people find their true calling. Eva maintains a strong interest in bringing the digital revolution in human resources. She finds her inspiration in writing and peace of mind through yoga. Connect with Eva on Twitter.