Don’t Fall for These 5 Salary Negotiation Myths

salary negotiation myths
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Seventy percent of people who ask for a raise get some kind of pay increase, according to recent results from PayScale’s survey. Thirty-nine percent even get the exact amount they ask for.

Still, many people are reluctant to ask. Only 37 percent of respondents say they’ve negotiated for a raise at their current employer.

Why don’t people ask for more? Previous PayScale research showed that many people are uncomfortable negotiating — 28 percent of those who’d never asked for a raise chose that reason. A further 19 percent said they were afraid they’d be perceived as pushy. Eight percent thought that they might wind up out of a job if they negotiated.

If you’re afraid to ask for the salary you deserve, consider whether you’ve fallen prey to one of these salary negotiation myths:

1. Talking About Money Is Tacky

Our culture teaches us that talking about money isn’t polite. You’d never ask someone at a party how much they make or what their mortgage payment looks like. That’s all well and good, but being too secretive about money can cost you. If you’re too uncomfortable to even broach the subject of a raise, you might find that other squeaky wheels get that grease instead. (Only 30 percent of respondents say that they’ve received a raise before they could ask.)

2. Ask Your Coworkers How Much They Make

So, being able to talk about money is important. But that doesn’t mean that informally polling your coworkers will give you an idea of how much you should be earning.

For one thing, you have no way of knowing if they’re being honest. For another, you don’t know if you’re comparing apples to apples — your colleague might have certifications or skills that boost their pay, for example.

PayScale’s Salary Survey gives you a range based on all your qualifications, including skills, education and experience. It’s based on responses from thousands of workers in your field and geographic location — so even if your coworkers are scrupulously honest, your salary report will give you a more accurate picture.

3. Women Are Paid Less Because They Don’t Negotiate

In fact, PayScale’s data show that women negotiate nearly as often as men. However, other research shows that women are more likely than men to be seen as aggressive when they ask for more, and thus to pay a “social cost” for negotiating.

“In repeated studies, the social cost of negotiating for higher pay has been found to be greater for women than it is for men,” wrote researcher Hannah Riley Bowles at Harvard Business Review. “Men can certainly overplay their hand and alienate negotiating counterparts. However, in most published studies, the social cost of negotiating for pay is not significant for men, while it is significant for women.”

That doesn’t mean that women should stop asking — just that they should be aware of the potential for bias in their negotiating partner. (Need a technique to cope with that bias? This trick might work.)

4. Never Share Your Salary History

Much of the conventional wisdom around negotiating is geared toward men. For example, you may have heard that you should never share your salary history during negotiating. That’s true — if you’re a man.

PayScale’s research shows that a woman who refuses to share her salary history when asked earns 1.8 percent less than a woman who discloses it. When men hold their cards close to their chest, they earn 1.2 percent more on average.

5. A New Job Is Always the Best Way to Get More Money

Can you quit your way to higher pay? It depends on your job. PayScale’s research shows that workers with some job titles earn a premium for loyalty, while others see a pay bump when they switch jobs.

For example, a software developer who has worked for the same company for nine or 10 years earns 10 percent less than a new hire in the same job. But, an administrative assistant who has stayed at the same job for the same amount of time earns 19 percent more than a newbie.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you successfully negotiated a higher salary? We want to hear from you. Share your tips in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.