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What to say when negotiating salary

What to Say When Negotiating Salary: 8 Proven Techniques

Are you really getting what you deserve? There’s a good chance you aren’t. Consider 

that according to one study, more than half of all workers have never negotiated their  pay. For Gen Z and millennials, that number rises to over 60%! Statistically women are even less likely to ask for a raise –– contributing no doubt to income disparity between the genders. Truth is, people are more willing to leave jobs for higher wages than they are to renegotiate in their current position. This should give employers pause given how much time and money companies spend training employees who take their new skills to a higher bidder. 


Most people have to deal with salary negotiations at some point. Whether you’re considering a job offer, transferring to a new company, or just hoping for a raise from your longtime employer, there are proven ways to get what you want. So if you’re wondering what to say when negotiating salary, here are some tips. 

Timing is Everything


It’s natural to wait for your performance review. The downside to this approach is that company budgets are often set at this point –– giving your manager an easy out. Instead, schedule a conversation a few months before. After all, you’ve been performing well all along haven’t you? Company policy may dictate when the raise occurs but setting the groundwork early can pay dividends later. Demonstrate to your manager not only that you have already obtained their goals but have a compelling vision for your shared future.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect


It’s normal to feel awkward or uncomfortable during salary negotiations. Many of us were raised to believe that discussing money is impolite or vulgar. That may be true during dinner but it isn’t the case at work. Talking about money can actually be helpful. If a coworker doing a similar job earns more than you do, that’s something that needs to be addressed. 


One way to get over your jitters is to enlist a trusted friend to play your manager in a bit of role play. Practicing beforehand is key to building confidence –– which not only improves your work performance but increases your chances of succeeding during your negotiations. You can even record your practice session or use a mirror if a friend is unavailable.

How You Say What You Say Matters


It shouldn’t be shocking that likability is a big factor. So if you want to know what to say when negotiating salary, it’s important to frame the meeting as collaborative rather than competitive. In other words, saying something like “I look forward to this opportunity to work with you” can improve what could be a fraught experience for both parties. Remember, you’re helping your manager justify rewarding a talented, hardworking employee –– you!

Watch Your Figure


The old saw that the first one to speak during a negotiation loses has merit. 

When you are asked what your ideal salary would be, counter by saying “I’m sure the company has a range in mind.” Try to keep the ball in their court. When you mention a number, it should not be a round one but rather something like $74,225. It seems silly but it works –– plus it demonstrates that you know exactly what others in your profession earn. 

Provide Data


“Based on my research,” is a great opener because it not only tells your manager that you have done your homework but it gives them an out if you have information that doesn’t match their own data or their assumptions. Demonstrating what other companies pay employees who are doing the same job as you gives you leverage. Don’t threaten to quit, rather let them know who may be scooping you up if you leave. Good resources include career site GlassDoor’s salary calculator and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which provides median salaries for a wide range of occupations. 


Know the Market


Another example of what to say when negotiating salary is “based on the current market.” This encompasses the marketplace locally –– where the cost of living may be higher. It also acknowledges the state of the job market. Just because some have a hard time finding a job doesn’t mean that your particular skill set isn’t in high demand. 

Honor Your Achievements


Did you take on extra work when the COVID-19 pandemic transformed many of us into remote employees overnight? Were you able to keep your department running without a hiccup? These accomplishments are why you deserve a pay increase. Remember, you ask for more money because your responsibility has increased, not because the costs of childcare or rent have gone up. 

Take Your Time


It’s okay to take some time before making a decision. After an offer, say something like, “May I take a day to consider this?” Some offers are designed to motivate short-term decisions, demanding that people make their choice quickly and rewarding those who do. Try not to fall into this trap –– most decisions are better after some time has passed. Although negotiating isn’t easy, remember that you’ll never get what you want if you don’t learn how to ask for it. 


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