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More Than Half of Millennials Have Made This Major Career Mistake

By Maurie Backman – May 15, 2019 at 6:36AM

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Hint: It can affect not only your happiness, but your finances, too.

Millennials represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce today, so it's always interesting to see what they're up to on the career front. Now it's no secret that millennials are comfortable with the idea of job-hopping. But new data from LinkedIn highlights one major flaw in their approach to seeking out new roles -- millennials aren't comfortable enough negotiating salary. Specifically, 53% of millennials have never negotiated for salary or benefits, even though 59% think hiring managers expect them to do so, and 51% agree that it's common practice.

If you've shied away from negotiating for a better compensation package, it could be because you're not sure how to approach those conversations. Here are a few ways to overcome your hesitations and snag the salary and benefits you deserve.

Young male adult sitting at laptop, holding his head as if stressed

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

1. Go in knowing what you're worth

You'll feel more confident negotiating salary if you do your research and find out what the going rate is for the job you're seeking. There are plenty of online sources for salary information, so dig around and see what people are making in your neck of the woods (keeping in mind that you'll generally command a higher salary in a major city than in a smaller one). It also doesn't hurt to talk to recruiters to get a sense of what dollar amount you can command. That way, you're more likely to land on a number that not only makes you happy, but is more likely to make sense to the employer you might work for.

2. Understand the value of your benefits

Your salary is only one component of your total compensation. The benefits you receive through work will also have a financial implication, so as you negotiate, be sure to recognize the monetary value those benefits offer. For example, if you're currently paying $400 per month for your health insurance premium, and you have a job offer on the table that offers fully subsidized insurance, suddenly, you're up $4,800, assuming the plan offers roughly the same level of coverage and comes with comparable deductibles and copays.

Additionally, if your new employer offers a generous 401(k) match, that's free money for retirement coming your way -- and there's certainly a value to that. The same holds true for perks like free in-office meals and unlimited vacation. Therefore, before you get too caught up on the salary that's on the table, figure out what the associated benefits are worth, and then see if the number looks good or not.

Keep in mind that just as you can negotiate for a higher salary, you can also ask for better benefits. For example, while an employer probably won't go out and switch up its health plan just for you, it may start you off with extra vacation days in an effort to bring you on board.

3. Be prepared to walk away if you're already employed

Today's job market is relatively strong, and opportunities are abundant. Therefore, if you're unable to negotiate the salary and benefits you want from a new job, you shouldn't hesitate to walk away and start the process over elsewhere. This assumes that you're currently employed and have a steady paycheck. If you don't, and you're desperate for money, then you may have no choice but to take an offer that's merely acceptable, albeit far from terrific. But as long as you have options, don't settle for a compensation package you don't like -- especially when there are so many openings out there.

Though negotiating salary can be an intimidating process, you shouldn't shy away from it. If you don't ask for more money or better benefits, you won't get them, and the last thing you want to do is accept an offer you're not totally satisfied with, only to regret it after the fact.

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Maurie Backman owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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