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Salary Negotiations: 5 Things You Should Not Say

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Whether you already have a job and you feel like you deserve a raise, or you are just starting a new job and have to negotiate your pay, salary negotiations are never fun for anybody. If you ever asked yourself as to why that is, the answer to that is pretty simple:

Employees want to earn as much money as possible while companies want to pay as little as it takes to keep said employees. This is a fundamental difference that causes a gap, which in most cases can not be closed. 

However, there is no need to lose hope! There are multiple things you can do to make sure you get what you want and most importantly what you deserve. As always, preparation is key. Make sure you know where you are right now in your job, what you achieved and what you can do or bring, and why this justifies a specific salary. Once you have a goal salary and a number of clear arguments that strengthen your case, the only thing left to do is to communicate them correctly – and because there are so many things you could say that are right, we listed the 7 worst things you should never say during salary negotiations. 

“I think …” , “I believe…”, “I need…,” 

Do not talk about what you think, believe or need, rather focus on what you can do! Remember that an employer's goal is to pay you as little as possible to keep you in the company. It is, therefore, all the more important to state why the company needs you and not the other way round. What are you doing and what can you bring that justifies a higher pay? Once you established your reasons, use numbers and achievements to further prove your point. 

“No”  

It is of course, reasonable to decline an offer, however as long as you are still willing to negotiate to try to totally eliminate the word “No”. In general use positive rather than negative language, to try and continuously improve the situation. Words such as “don’t” or “won’t” will only constitute that you are not really willing to negotiate. Use phrases like “I would be more comfortable with” or “I would propose that” to keep the communication up. 

“Yes”

Although the right time to accept an offer might come sooner or later, it maybe has not come yet. A common mistake made during salary negotiations is to not negotiate at all. Studies show that 70% of managers don't expect their initial salary offer to be accepted, so do not be worried about what your boss thinks. Even if the offer is higher than what you expected, why not try to go for more? 

“Sorry”

Never apologize for wanting a higher pay. Negotiations are uncomfortable and naturally, you will want to say sorry to avoid conflict, however not only is it unjustified, but it will also most likely sabotage your case. An apology will show that you are not confident in your reasoning and further signal your employer that you are willing to back down. You prepared arguments in your favor which validate your point and based on this you deserve a higher pay - no need to feel uncomfortable or sorry. 

“Want” and “More”

Based on the arguments you prepared, you do not “want” – you deserve! And you do not just deserve “more” but a specific number. Wanting something does not mean that you will also get it. However, if you justify why you deserve more, there is little room for counterarguments. By using specific numbers, you show confidence in your case and a high level of preparation which will make you look more professional. 

“I am looking for x” 

Although, we just told you to use specific numbers, make sure you use them correctly. Do not immediately give out what you want, rather try to find out what your employer is willing to pay. If the number is too low, say something like “Thank you for your offer Y, however, I feel like I deserve X and here is why”. If the proposed offer is higher than your goal, try to go even higher. 

“Currently”

When a new salary is being negotiated, it is either based on your current salary in the company, or recruiters will ask you what you earned in your last position. In any case, do not let this throw you off. Base your wanted future pay on the value you can bring to the company, and compare your pay relative to the market.

Checklist for salary negotiations:

  • Come prepared – Know what want
  • Know your value – State numbers and achievements which validate your point
  • Be confident – If you deserve more, there is no need to be uncomfortable
  • Know what YOU want

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