Not Bargaining Will Haunt You Throughout Your Career


business handshake over blue background/apreton de manos sobre fondo azul


Millennials often wonder about that iffy issue in a job interview. It is on the minds of everyone.

Should you bring it up at all? If it’s your first job, you should take whatever you get, right?

Yes, I am talking about your salary.


It’s that elephant in the room. Employers know it’s there, and so do you. What do you do about it?

Bargain. It’s something that employers can take advantage of, and it’ll haunt you throughout your career if you do nothing.


Employer’s Know You Are Nervousness

Employers know how nervous millennials are, especially if you are being offered your first job. Experience matters and is essential to opening new doors. 6 out of 10 millennials don’t negotiate their pay when accepting their first jobs and are reluctant to broach even the subject (source).

So salary questions and negotiation shouldn’t be put on the table right?

No. It’s something important. Unless you have a well-mapped plan, then some negotiation is needed.


Why? It’s a telling figure. Employers will see this as a good signal. If you don’t negotiate on your salary, an important area, then you won’t discuss other benefits. Flexibility, insurance, and any perks you get on the job.

Benefits and perks are important. They comprise the hidden part of your salary, as these have monetary costs attached.

Guess what? Hiring you means they want you. But not negotiating and being shy of anything broaching pay and benefits for that matter will lower your standing. Employees that can negotiate are respected as professionals sure of their worth.


Not doing anything is saying: I am uncertain and not confident. This will:

  • Allow employers to take advantage of you. They will take it upon themselves to determine what pay and benefits you get allocated.
  • Doesn’t convey the right impression. Someone not confident enough in themselves portray poor backbone. Promotions won’t happen to someone that gets pushed around. And will that person even be able to talk clients into deals?


Below is why you have to bargain, and tips in how to negotiate.


Bargain for that Job that Matters

You may find that the role you successfully obtain is worth staying at for several years. Negotiating salary is even more important than, for your financial worries.

Besides those student loans you have to pay back, housing and living costs aren’t anything to sniff at. Your lifestyle will follow from how much you can negotiate at your job offer interview.


Figures that Hurt

Raises are bundled in with the organisation’s operative needs. Or they can be conveniently blamed on the economy or ‘business concerns’.

Wage growth in 2014 lagged behind inflation. It rose to 2.6%, the slowest according to the Bureau of Statistics in 2014, the lowest since 1997.

Raises are given even to the lowest performing employees, at 1-1.3%. The best can look to increases of 3% tops.

These numbers don’t matter much, though if you didn’t negotiate a competitive wage at the start.


Market and Organisation Woes

Recessions and any factors that can be perceived as a negative factor are reason enough to decrease wage increases and bonuses. Employers can come up with any number of valid and convincing reasons to axe a salary increase or bonus.
If you want to remain financially independent in a role you wish to stay in, you need to negotiate your salary.


Tips for Negotiation

  1. Don’t broach the subject if possible. Wait for the employer to bring up the subject. It’s strange, but salary negotiation revolves around a common superstition: the one who first speaks about it is at a disadvantage.
  2. Do your research on average salaries of the company. Look up sites such a Glassdoor that offer estimates. You need to have an estimated figure to play ball.
  3. Questions that are pitfalls: ‘What is your expected salary? Or What do you think you should be paid?’ are traps set by employers. They will be able to use that piece of information to negotiate to their advantage.
  4. Rather, as employees politely state: ‘I am sure you have a salary range that reflects the role and duties the job specifies. You have a set budget and processes that are specific to your organisation. After all, you created this position. Can you tell me what range you set?’
  5. Asking questions along these lines put the onus on the employer. They will give you a figure, most probably in the lower part of the range. Add another 5-10% to hit the ceiling of what they are offering.

Negotiating early is critical to getting a feel of how to bargain professionally. It will be essential in getting that next job, which you will want if you want a pay rise.


Jumping Ship Pays

Jumping to another job is the sure fire way of obtaining your well-deserved pay rise.

Assuming your career will last 10 years, you can expect a 50% increase in pay. This figure only goes up, the longer your career lasts (source).

Why then do people stay in companies longer than 2 years, when jumping to another opportunity would get them that pay spike?

Conditioning: Employers and business reports are convincing and have a grain of truth. They point to real issues in the business environment.

Reality: These factors are seen as inherent, and organisations have encouraged and conditioned employees into accepting these business reasons as part of life.


The Long Run Figures

According to a study on Time, the Federal Reserve in the US did a survey of 5 million workers over 40 years. After 10 years, the average worker’s salaries stagnated. Only the wealthiest say meaningful wage growth after 10 years (source).

Negotiating at the start will impact the long term earnings in your career lifespan. Corporations follow similar paying schemes, so the figures from the US need digesting.


In Closing

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. There isn’t anything more costly than not negotiating your first salary. And it will leave a lasting impression on your employer, affecting your promotion and subsequent pay raises.

Negotiate to get the salary you’re worth. And start early, because it’ll be a valuable skill to practice for the future when salary negotiation pushes you into higher salary brackets.


How do you negotiate? What are significant perks that you fight for?

Please share your insight and successful negotiation stories in the comments below.

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