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Negotiating Your Salary – 6 Mistakes Singaporeans Should Avoid

negotiating your salary

Joanne Poh

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The biggest mistake you can make is to avoid negotiating your salary at all. Yes, I know we’ve been raised to be compliant little worker bees and show deference to authority. But it’s exactly that kind of attitude that depresses our wages and lets employers get away with being exploitative.

Most of the time, employers will give you the lowest offer they think you’ll accept. Often, they’re willing to pay more, provided you’re willing to negotiate for it.

But negotiating your salary isn’t about just opening your mouth and demanding to be paid more. It’s a tricky balancing act, because if you are too unreasonable, come across the wrong way or ruffle any feathers, the employer will decide to send you packing.

Here are some tips for negotiating your salary without the employer retracting their offer.

 

Not doing your research on how much you can realistically expect to be paid

Don’t think you can just take the employer’s offer, tack on 30% and then shove that figure back in their face. Being unreasonable or asking for the sky might convince them that they can’t afford you.

So always research how much you can reasonably be paid. Research the market rate in your industry for someone with similar experience, and talk to friends in the industry so you have a better idea of the range of acceptable salaries.

 

Avoid being a hardass when negotiating your salary

Negotiating is supposed to be a delicate dance, where you and the employer try to find some middle ground. The employer makes an offer, you counter that with your price, and then based on these two quotations, you try to find a figure you’re both comfortable with.

So don’t go in there and DEMAND that you be paid a certain amount, and then refuse to budge when the employer tries to bargain your price down. This is not Chatuchak Market in Bangkok where if you walk away the stallholder will frantically agree to your price.

If the employer flat out says no, that means they’re not willing or able to pay what you’re asking for. Get them to make a counter-offer instead of insisting on getting your way.

 

Raising your asking price suddenly

When you bargain at Chatuchak Market, once you suggest a price, you can’t suddenly lower it. So if you offered 100 baht for that tshirt and the seller is asking for 500 baht, you can’t suddenly change your mind and offer 50 baht.

When negotiating salary, if you’ve said you’d be happy with $5,000 a month, you can’t suddenly change your mind and say that actually you want $6,000.

 

Citing personal reasons for wanting to be paid more

You might have a brood of seven children to feed, a disabled family member to take care of, need to pay off your car loan or have a glamorous lifestyle that needs to be paid for. Whatever it might be, do not talk about that at the interview.

Not only are these personal issues that should be kept out of the picture, your employer is also only interested in what you can offer the company, and could care less about your sob stories. What’s more, talking about your personal or financial woes is going to make you sound like a problematic employee, or desperate for the job.

 

Not letting the employer make the first offer

Many employers will ask you what your expected salary is. Avoid answering this question, and tell them you’d prefer if they made you an offer first.

Telling the employer your price, much like disclosing your salary history, will definitely work against you, as they now know how much you’re willing to settle for and will adjust their own offer accordingly.

 

Not paying attention to your tone, diction and body language

Disliking you as a person or feeling that you wouldn’t fit into the company culture are both perfectly valid reasons for rejecting you after an interview.

So don’t forget that even as you negotiate your salary, you should always take care to come across as the sort of employee they’d love to have on board. That means paying attention to your tone, your choice of words and your body language.

Don’t let emotion get the better of you even if you think you’re being ripped off. Keep that smile plastered on your face, continue to display enthusiasm for the job and remember to thank them for their time even if you’re dying of indignation on the inside.

Have you ever been guilty of any of the above mistakes? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.