When it comes to salary negotiations, you may think it’s a winner-takes-all situation. Or, you may think that the employer holds all the cards and you’re at their mercy. While it may feel that way, that’s usually not the case!
Salary negotiations should be a flexible, collaborative process based on facts and figures, not emotions and desires. Of course, for many, that’s easier said than done! But staying calm, cool, and collected during salary negotiations will help you reach a mutually satisfactory agreement with the employer.
Whether you’re negotiating in real time or over email, or as a potential new employee or a current one, here are a few phrases to help you keep things on track.
What to Say During Salary Negotiations
1. Is that number flexible?
Some companies have strict pay bands they have to follow. Others have smaller budgets and little to no room to negotiate.
The thing is, you won’t know unless you ask! When negotiating your salary with an employer, ask if the pay range is flexible. You might get a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe,” but knowing whether or not the employer has any flexibility can help guide how you approach the process.
2. My research shows…
Researching the average salary for your position before you start negotiating helps you better position your arguments. You should know the market rate for your title, as well as the market rate for someone with your skill set, years of experience, and even your location.
When you frame your points with research, it demonstrates that you understand the overall market in your industry and aren’t pulling numbers out of thin air. And it shows you’re basing your request on objective facts and statistics, not your desires.
3. Now that I know more about the position…
The job description seemed like the perfect match for you, and after learning about it, it still is. However, you’ve also learned it requires more travel or technical skills, for example, than you realized.
You still want the role but have a different idea of what the compensation should be. Explain that because there’s more of [X] involved, you think [Y] would be the right salary. Even if you discussed salary early on and cited a lower pay range or the pay range was disclosed in the job posting, you can still invoke this phrase (along with specific details) to lead into why you should be paid more.
4. I am excited by this opportunity…
A salary negotiation shouldn’t be a battle of wills to see who wins. It should be a collaborative process between employer and employee (or potential new employee) to come to a mutually agreeable salary.
While money is important and may be the deciding factor for you, when you talk about your excitement for the role, you’re making it clear that your motivation for applying and accepting is about more than just dollar signs. You’re signaling that you’re truly interested in the role because of everything it has to offer.
5. I would be more comfortable with…
Because a salary negotiation should exclude emotions, stay away from words like “want” or “need.” Though you may want or need a specific salary, stating it bluntly (“I need [X] salary to work for you”) could be a real turn-off to the employer and might even come across as adversarial.
Though “comfortable” may also imply want or need, it’s a less aggressive word and can help reinforce that you’re willing to work with the employer and be flexible.
6. Can I have a few days to think about it?
No matter what the offer is or where you are in the negotiating process, asking for some time to think about it gives you a chance to walk away and evaluate the whole package. Even if the offer seems like it’s beyond your wildest dreams, it may not be once you take a step back.
Taking a day or two to consider things and dig into the details can give you a chance to respond thoughtfully and professionally. And if the employer says no, consider that a red flag.
7. What about [X] instead?
While salary is likely a significant consideration for you, sometimes employers just can’t go any higher on salary. Fortunately, there’s more to compensation than money!
Consider asking for extra vacation time, flexible hours, or anything else that is as valuable (or more valuable) to you than salary. You might be surprised what the employer is willing to negotiate on outside of pay, so give it a shot!
Facts and Figures
Salary negotiation of any kind should always be rooted in facts and figures, not desires and emotions. Choosing the right words and phrases can help you stay objective and open-minded throughout the process, increasing the odds that you and the employer both walk away from negotiations satisfied.
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