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3 mistakes that job seekers do when doing salary negotiations...

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fernandoespinosaBased on our expertise, there are 3 mistakes that job seekers make when negotiating a salary, usually due to lack of preparation and experience.

1- First mistake: A large amount of job seekers don’t know how much their skill set is worth in the market before engaging in a salary discussion. As a result, they get into a salary negotiating process feeling overvalued or undervalued.


If they feel “undervalued’, the job seeker settles with whatever the employer will offer for the job and potentially ends up underpaid, with all the consequences attached. If they start the process “overvalued”, they usually will have very unrealistic compensation expectations and might lose great career opportunities when employers realize they have the wrong expectations.

To avoid that mistake, the first suggestion for the job seekers is to do solid research and learn about their "value added". They need to know their qualifications very well and learn about how much the market place is paying for somebody with similar skill sets (abilities, competencies, skills, critical technical knowledge, training, education, experience and achievements). Job seekers need to do their homework, and be prepared to speak on industry standards that back up their salary requests. To accomplish this, there are lots of salary comparison tools on the internet available such,,, among others.

2.- Second mistake: Many job seekers think that the salary will make them feel happy. This is often not the case. They should avoid concentrating too much on the salary calculation by itself and think more about their life and career plan, and how the job they are applying for can get them to fulfill those plans and goals.

To avoid this mistake, we recommend that job seekers apply to jobs not only based on the potential salary offered, but how well the career opportunity fits into their life and career plans. They need to review if the company can offer the level of opportunities, challenges, scenarios and best practices that can improve and enhance the job seekers’ skill set. They need to know if the company has the resources to offer training and development for them, and lastly, they need to know if the company offers an overall competitive compensation package. In other words, the job seeker should use a targeted and holistic approach in applying for career opportunities with companies that will have the right infrastructure, organizational culture and landscape, training and development, challenges , upward mobility opportunities and compensation packages for them and for their career and succession plans.

3.- Third mistake: Many job seekers don’t know enough about the prospective employer. They don't know the size and complexity of their organizational structure, their market share, the level of the job they are applying for within that organization, the scarcity of the skills and experience needed for the job in the job market, the salary range and compensation package for the job within that organization, the existing economic conditions for that company within the job market, the existing economic conditions within the industry for that employer, and all the company-specific factors that might affect the given salary (comparative jobs, their culture, their pay philosophy, and their promotion practices).

To avoid this mistake, we recommend the job seekers complete their due diligence and learn this and all the information available about their prospective employer to be able to conduct the best possible salary negotiations.

When job seekers do their due diligence in both ends, and prepare before engaging in salary negotiations, they avoid other smaller mistakes, such as:

a)Bringing up salary discussions before the employers do. These are to be delayed as long as possible until they know exactly what the position entails.

b)Not letting the prospective employer know how much they will be willing to accept, and allowing the prospective employer make the first salary offer, until they get a salary that fulfill their expectations.

c)Being dishonest with previous income. They don’t inflate their income just to get a higher salary offer. They don’t try to negotiate right after the offer is made. They take the time to consider all factors before making any job offer decisions and they don’t get overly aggressive in negotiating the salary they want.

d)Concentrating only on salary. Instead, they look at the compensation package as a whole. They try to get other things such as a better workspace, flex time, bonuses, vacation time, relocation packages, etc.

e) Not giving themselves enough time before accepting or declining an offer to make sure they are making the right decision. They should know how to ask for the right changes in the offer and make sure all the elements offered in the job offer are included in writing.

The whole purpose of a salary negotiation should be about having a happy job seeker and a happy employer as a result of a due diligence process on both sides, where they get to know each other, they set up the right selection tools to screen each other, and they set up the right expectations for both parties. In a win-win salary negotiation, both employer and employee leave the salary negotiation feeling ready to start on a long-term, successful professional relationship



 Fernando Espinosa, CPC, CDR, CSP

Fernando is a Senior Managing Partner in Top Notch Finders, Inc. Fernando works from corporate-owned offices in San Diego, CA Fernando consistently sets performance records for successfully closing search projects throughout all company divisions.

Fernando has more than eighteen years of search experience in the manufacturing market in the U.S. and Mexico. Prior to founding Top Notch Finders, he led another search firm in Chula Vista, CA (Qualifind, Inc) for 12 years and prior to that he led a Mexico-based search practice focused on Mexico’s maquiladora industry. Fernando has been involved in assisting manufacturing clients from Asia, Europe and the United States solve a variety of recruiting, outplacement, cultural sensitivity and other human resource related issues in their Mexico operations.

Fernando is fluent in the English, Spanish, Japanese and French languages and has studied in Mexico, Japan and the U.S.. To further enhance his experience, he pursued and achieved several certifications such as a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and as a Certified Diversity Recruiter  and completed the University of California at San Diego’s (UCSD) Human Resource Certificate Program. Fernando earned a Masters Degree in International Administration from CETYS University and a BA in International Relations from UNAM University in Mexico City.

Fernando is currently serving as a Member of the Board of Directors of the US National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS). Fernando is in charge of the District 5 which includes the following States: California, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

He is the 1st credentialed member of The Pinnacle Society from Mexico, whose membership is limited to 75 of the highest performing recruiters in North America

Fernando is also member of the American Chamber of Commerce and Member of the California Staffing Professionals Association.
Contact Fernando : 619.421.7134 *


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