Sometimes what you know is … wrong. Unfortunately, strategies around salary negotiation is one area where rumors or outright falsehoods are so prevalent, they can get you into trouble even though you’re under the impression you’re taking an effective approach.
Here are five of the most common myths we’ve heard, and tips on how to address these areas so you can increase the chances of getting the compensation package you want.
Myth No. 1: Salary Negotiations are Cut and Dried
Emotional and social intelligence are the secret weapons of successful negotiators. They help you understand the role and motivation of each player, establish rapport, shoot for a win-win solution, and strategically pick your battles. In fact, likeability is one of the keys to influencing people, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine.
Myth No. 2: You Can’t Negotiate Benefits or Other Perks
Yes, you can. HR may hold the keys to your base salary, but line managers typically control the funding for tuition assistance, paid time off, signing bonuses, annual bonuses, premium pay, cell phone reimbursement and stock options. So don’t focus strictly on salary. Negotiate every element of your compensation package.
Myth No. 3: Companies Won’t Pay More for Hot Skills
In fact, companies are often willing to offer more for the most in-demand certified and non-certified skills. They just may not advertise it. In some cases, they’d prefer to pay a temporary bonus since the list of needed skills changes every few months. Says David Foote, CEO of analyst firm Foote Partners: “We know of about 1,700 employers who are using ‘hot skills pay.’ About half are embedding it in base pay, but they show it as a separate line item on payroll checks. The rest are paying it outside of base.”
Myth No. 4: You Have to Accept a Lower Salary to Work for a Startup
Not every startup is short on cash. Do your homework and ask about the company’s funding situation to negotiate a reasonable blend of salary and equity.
Myth No. 5: You Can’t Negotiate Equity
Equity packages have a million moving parts, and you may be able to negotiate different terms if you take the time to understand the variables. For example, you might negotiate a loan so you don’t have to come up with the cash to exercise your options. Or, you may get an accelerated vesting schedule for stock grants. The financial impact of changing just a few terms in a stock agreement can be substantial, but as Salary.com points out, you need to do your homework to negotiate these bad boys.