The bad news is that you’re not a whiz at negotiating pay. And the other bad news is that you’ll almost certainly have to do it at least a couple of times in your career. Virtually nobody is good at negotiating pay, so you’re in good company, but don’t you want to know why you — and everyone else — sucks so bad?

You’re nervous about it.

Yup! You’re nervous because this is a big deal! The thing to remember is that both you and the person you’re negotiating pay with both want the same thing: for you to come to work for the company, and for you to be happy about it (because they’ve offered you the job, you can assume they’re happy about it!). Just knowing you have that common ground can make the process less nerve-wracking. At least a little.

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You have no clue what to ask for.

Whether this is your first rodeo or your tenth, there’s bound to be stuff you don’t know how to ask for. And companies will often ask you what you want before they tell you what they’re going to offer.

Your job is to understand at least a bit about the market for the job you’re looking at, and to know what’s important to you.

The best thing you can do here is to make sure you do your homework. Read everything the company has sent you about pay and benefits before you start negotiating pay. And go to the company’s website – most medium to large companies have information that can help there, too.

You don’t actually think you deserve what you’re asking for.

Especially if you’ve got self-esteem issues, or if you’re negotiating with an organization with a strong social mission, this can be a real sticking point.

Remember, you’ve got mad skills (or you wouldn’t have the job offer). Of course, don’t let that take you over the top to obnoxious; calm confidence works well. This post about negotiating pay with confidence has some good info, too.

You’re not a compensation expert.

And you’re not supposed to be (unless you are, then see below). The person negotiating pay with you knows that.

But you do need to be informed (see above), and know how to ask good questions.

You are a compensation expert.

There’s such a thing as knowing too much. Those of us with backgrounds designing pay programs or who have negotiated pay from the talent acquisition side know oodles about how companies pay people. And we might get our brains bent by trying to figure out exactly what’s going on behind the proverbial curtains.

If you know more than your fair share, just stop. Use your power for good, and try your hardest to not attach any more meaning to what’s happening than there really is. The more you can stay curious and open to the process, the better!

You just want it to be over.

I hear you! But stick with it – negotiating pay can’t actually go on forever. If you can focus on that great new job waiting for you on the other side, the momentary discomfort of negotiating your pay package won’t be so bad.

You need some help.

Yes, you do! Buddy up with someone who can be in your corner, but also maintain some perspective. If you have a coach or advisor, this is a great thing to work with them on. While many people pick friends or relatives to help them, the biggest benefit of partnering with someone on negotiating pay is the independent perspective. It isn’t the “poor baby!” you’ll get from your BFF.

Bottom line, sucking at pay negotiations, well, sucks. But you don’t have to!

Need someone in your corner for pay negotiations? Email me for more info!