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7 Magic Words and Phrases for Expert Salary Negotiation

Topics: Negotiation

It pays to negotiate salary. Still, of respondents to PayScale’s survey, only 43 percent said they’d asked for a raise while working in their current field.

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The reasons for this are complex. Women are more likely to say that they’re uncomfortable negotiating salary (31 percent compared with 23 percent of men) and for good reason. They face a different set of challenges when it comes to negotiation. PayScale’s survey results have also identified that Gen Y is less likely to negotiate salary than other groups. And, the frequency with which workers ask for raises also varies by earnings and industry.

But, no matter who you are or what you do for a living, it’s a smart decision to negotiate your salary. And, there are some key words and phrases that should come in handy for most everyone. Consider using them during your next negotiation.

1. “I’d like to have a discussion about my salary.

There are some times that are a natural fit for salary negotiation, like when you’re starting a new job or perhaps after an annual performance review. But, you can ask for a raise any time. Just be sure to let the person you’re meeting with know what you’re after. Don’t catch them off guard. Schedule a meeting, and let them know that you’d like to discuss your salary. This gives the person you’re meeting with some time to prepare for the discussion.

2. “I enjoy what I do and I do it well.”

It’s important to approach a salary discussion with a positive attitude. You won’t get anywhere by putting your manager on the defensive. So, be positive. Discuss how you feel about the job. Tell your boss how much you enjoy your work or how much you’re looking forward to getting started. But, most importantly, talk a little bit about your performance. Describe the value you add to the company, or how you routinely exceed expectations and benchmarks. Be as specific as possible, offering concrete numbers to back up your claims.

3. “I’m excited for the future.”

Let the person you’re meeting with know that you see a future for yourself with the organization. This conversation isn’t about threatening to leave or not take the job. But, you also won’t stay forever without the right compensation. You want to let them know that you’re thinking about and planning for a future with the company. This conversation is just one part of that process.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

4. “According to my research…

Come to your next salary negotiation meeting armed with some solid research about what you should be earning. Use PayScale’s Salary Survey to find out what workers earn in your industry and region, with your level of experience and training. Then, let the folks you’re meeting with know the results of your research. Knowing what you’re worth is the first step toward earning more.

5. “I’d like to discuss a few other details.”

Remember that there is more to your compensation than just your salary. Sometimes, there is more flexibility where benefits are concerned. So, this can be an interesting avenue to explore during your negotiations as well. As with salary, decide what you’re looking for in advance. Then, explore whether or not there is any flexibility where these aspects of your compensation are concerned.

6. “Let’s set a date to meet again.”

You may be told that the person you’re meeting with will need some time to sort out your request and get back to you. You might also hear that the changes you’re looking for aren’t possible at this time, but that they might be at some point further down the road. In either case, it might make sense to set a date for your next meeting — or at least get a ballpark estimate of when that sit-down will take place. Let the person you’re meeting with know when you’ll follow up by email to schedule that meeting before you leave this conversation, if you can’t get something on the books right then.

7. “I really appreciate your help with this.”

Whether your conversation ends with a higher salary offer or simply a date to discuss the matter again further down the road, you want to end it on a high note. Expressing that you appreciate the time they’ve given to the matter is good, but saying that you appreciate their help might be even better. This is because this statement also implies that this salary increase is a goal you’re working toward, one way or another. They can help you reach your goals or not — either way, it’s something that you’re pursuing.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have concerns about how to approach an upcoming salary negotiation? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Hal HorowitzLacey CameronChristine Kelley Recent comment authors
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Christine Kelley
Christine Kelley

” According to my research” never seems to work. Your employer isn’t interested in what others are getting paid they are only going to offer you what the deem suitable.

Hal Horowitz
Hal Horowitz

These are excellent points. Christine Kelley makes a valid point, but only in some cases. If you’ve done your research, and particularly if you’re with a small or midsize firm that’s competing with the big boys for talent, they could well appreciate the research you’ve done. Of course, the firm’s budget could be an override, but budgets change annually. Also, I would not recommend just walking into your boss’ office and saying you’d like to discuss your salary. Timing can… Read more »

Lacey Cameron
Lacey Cameron

Great suggestions! I love including: Thanks for your help with this” I wouldn’t have thought to say that. I love these articles, very encouraging!

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