The One Career Mistake That’ll Set You Back $500,000 Jessica Bauer November 30, 2012 With a job offer on the table, far too many people, especially women, are quick to accept without considering their professional worth. “Over the course of their careers, women stand to lose as much as half a million dollars just by failing to negotiate their first job’s starting salary,” says Lydia Dishman in FastCompany. According to the 2012 Labor Force Survey, females currently contribute to 47.7% of the labor force, 35.4% held management positions and 22.9% detained senior management positions. With the hiring gap slowly shrinking, both sides of the gender fence should remember that a job offer is just an offer, until a contract is signed.Excellent candidates, those that know their skills and expertise in relation to the position at hand are far better equipped, as well as more confident to navigate the daunting road of salary negotiation.“Usually the salary range has 10% play,” argues Pat Palleschi, PhD, founder of the Executive Agency coaching firm. The set range is best discussed with the hiring manager in a face-to-face meeting. For those cringing at the thought of taking a hard line in an initial meeting, Palleschi advises starting with a positive statement. “I really want to work for you but to perform at my best, I need to talk with you about the total rewards picture and work with you to create a total rewards package that will be both fair to you and motivating to me.”When negotiating compensation is not an option, consider additional options, such as vacation time, a flexible schedule, telecommuting, tuition reimbursement, or other relevant possibilities. Kathy Sweeney, a certified employment interview consultant, advises candidates to “…look at their job description, identify areas where they excel such as making the company money, decreasing costs, or improving productivity, and detail those achievements in writing. Also, include work that isn’t part of their formal job description.” Lastly, timing is a contributing factor to the success of any negotiation process. With new positions, the negotiation should be done prior to accepting the new role. For salary raises, the advisable times are when a company is doing well, and in the begging or middle of a fiscal year. Although the answer may be a resounding no, it allows for insight into the company and how valuable employees may be seen.Negotiation should be an important step in any occupation acceptance process; be sure to examine current pay scales in relation to the future occupation and location.Sources that can assist are:Department of LaborGlassdoor.comSalary.com RelatedMaster’s Connection: Why Quitters WinChina adds 15 companies to the Fortune Global 500As a manager, "Do You Have Their Backs?"MBA Applicants: What's on your mind?