Negotiating for a higher salary is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to change your personal financial situation. Taking five minutes to do a salary negotiation the right way can result in an extra $5,000 or $10,000 or more. Of course, even if we recognize the big benefit of negotiating for a higher salary, that doesn't make the process easier.
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Salary talks are a crucial part of every job interview and annual review, but they can still be stressful because we often don't know what to say. To help ease the pain (and improve the financial gain), here are five phrases that everyone should know when it comes to negotiating for a higher salary.
1. "I'm going to need more information"
In the case of interviewing for a new job, you'll often find that recruiters will try to box you into a number as soon as possible by asking what your expected compensation will be—sometimes even on a phone interview before they have ever met you in person. "I'm going to need more information" is the perfect phrase to use in this situation. If you're pressed to give a number, then simply insist that you are going to need more information about the job before you feel comfortable offering an expected salary range.
You can even flip the script on the interviewer by saying something like the following, "You know, I'm really going to need more information about the total benefits package, the job requirements, and the work atmosphere before I feel comfortable stating a number. Can you give me an idea of what salary range your company has allocated for this position?"
A reply like that will often take the pressure off of you and force the recruiter to state a number. If they press further, then simply restate that you are going to need more information before you can venture a guess on your expected salary. It takes courage to stand up and demand that they budge first, but it's well worth it.
2. "What is the salary range you have allocated for someone in this position?"
The power of this phrase is not what you say, but when you say it. For most of us, this phrase is our weak attempt at a salary negotiation. However, if you use this simple phrase the very first time you meet a recruiter—long before the serious conversation starts—then you will have a much better chance of gaining the information you want.
Imagine, for example, that you walk into an interview and the recruiter says, "Do you have any questions before we get started?" Use this phrase right away, and your conversation might go like this... You: "I do, actually. What is the salary range you have allocated for someone in this position?" Interviewer: "Sixty-five to seventy-five thousand. Does that work for you?" You: "I'm sure that if we both feel good about the position, then salary won't be an issue."
Now you can move on to the rest of the conversation and tuck that little nugget of information away for later for when it actually comes time to talk about salary. Salary negotiations are all about having as much information as possible. Once you know what the other side is thinking, you'll be able to make a more successful offer.
3. "That sounds like a good starting place."
Once you hear the salary range that the company has placed aside for your position, you can respond with this phrase. "That sounds like a good starting place. Do we have any flexibility in that number?" Phrases like this are important because they keep the conversation friendly and collaborative rather than adversarial. Remember, you're working with the interviewer, not against them. You want the tone of the conversation to be, "how can we figure this out together."
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4. "What's the present value of that?"
When your compensation package is presented to you, it won't always be defined in clear terms. For example, the interviewer might state your salary in the dollar amount, but your stock options in the number of shares. Make sure that you get everything in your compensation package defined by a number so that you can see the whole picture clearly. Always ask for the present value of each item, so that you understand exactly what you are being offered. You can be sure that the company knows the exact dollar amount of what you are being awarded—even if they don't always present it that way.
5. "I'm a bit disappointed..."
This is a great phrase to use once you have been given a chance to review the employer's initial offer. If you see some pieces of the compensation package that you would like to improve, then start by saying, "Hmm... this looks good, but I'm a bit disappointed... [with the vacation days/salary/signing bonus]." This is a smooth way to kick start the salary negotiation conversation without coming on too strong.
Once again, after saying this phrase, your tone should be along the lines of, "how can we figure this out together" and not, "I want you to make the following changes." Make no mistake, salary negotiations aren't easy and they require practice, but if you put these five phrases to work then you can see a huge payoff. You can also find more information in this article on salary negotiation tips and this piece filled with useful interview tips.
James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda, a website about earning more money, time, and freedom. For more tips on salary negotiation as well as other proven tactics for earning more money, join Passive Panda's free newsletter.