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Real-life phrases when negotiating pay

Negotiating your salary during a job interview can be a daunting task. It's this strange game of chicken as both parties are hoping to get more from the other. Not just the pay value itself, but information that helps the other figure out what the other party is seeking. One thing is for certain, you must advocate for yourself and make sure you are prepared to walk away if your needs will not be met by the employer.

Just remember, it's only business, not personal (even though pay feels personal to us). Trying to mute the various emotions from money discussions can help us ensure we are fairly examining the negotiation process. Neither party is beholden to the other, so the goal is a win-win compromise so both parties get a benefit. If it doesn't seem like the negotiation is working to benefit you, you must be ready to walk away from the offer.

It's important to come prepared with strong and effective phrases to communicate your value and negotiate a fair compensation package.

One thing to consider as you prepare to negotiate. "They who mention numbers first, lose." What I mean by that is that the goal in this game of chicken is to get the other party to share their number so the other can negotiate better on what they want. There are not many scenarios where you as the candidate win by sharing your number first.

For example, let's suppose you say to the recruiter that you're looking to make $90,000 for a role you're applying for. Okay, cool. But what you didn't know was that they were prepared to pay the candidate up to $130,000 as the base. But since you stated that $90K is your ideal pay, the recruiter no longer has an incentive to negotiate further. You have essentially lowballed yourself.

Or let's try it another way: let's say you shoot for the stars and threw out a number like $160,000 for your ideal pay. Now, you are so far out of that $130,000 range that the recruiter may not bother to negotiate (they will have a hard time believing you will be happy with a $30K cut from where you ideally wanted to be.) and simply cut you from candidate consideration.

What you want is leverage. And the only way you'll get leverage is with information. This information can also come from you researching the role and finding the average pay for the role in your market by checking or Glassdoor. Of course, the premium information you can use is from the employer. And this is why is best to wait until the employer is ready to talk money. The employer wants information for leverage as well.

Come up with what I call the 'Magic 3'. These are numbers (but I advise they are broken into ranges) The 'Magic 3' consists of 3 ranges: Your "Oh Yeah" range, "Ideal" range, and "Dealbreaker" range.

Determine what is your Ideal pay range. One that will not only cover all of your current expenses but also your future needs such as money for traveling and vacations or investments. You want this range to be your 'sweet spot' range. As long as their offer falls within this range, you will walk away happy.

I always ask my clients, what is a number or pay range that's their "Hell yeah" or "Oh yeah!" number. Meaning, this is the amount that if the job offered you, you'd be shouting from the rooftops while writing your resignation letter for your current job and/or telling the new employer "Let's start tomorrow!" Yep, that's what this range is meant to do--to set a lofty, but realistic pay band that's significantly past your ideal range. That way, at a glance, you know the pay is above and beyond your ask.

The lowest range is what I call the 'Dealbreaker'. This range may barely cover your current expenses or less. It won't provide you with much financial growth and is not on par with your cost of living or the role. With Dealbreaker pay range, you know you'll be on the losing end of the deal as you will not be satisfied with this range. If they offer a number within this range as a final offer, you'll just walk away.

Here are some useful phrases that can help you negotiate your salary during a job interview:

"Based on my research and experience, I believe my skills and qualifications are worth [insert desired salary range]."

This phrase demonstrates that you have done your research and have a clear understanding of your value in the job market. It also sets the tone for the conversation and communicates your desired salary range.

"I am excited about this opportunity and believe I can bring a lot of value to your team. However, I was hoping we could discuss the possibility of a higher salary to reflect my experience and skills."

This phrase shows enthusiasm for the job while also making it clear that you believe you deserve a higher salary based on your qualifications. It's important to frame the conversation as a discussion rather than a demand.

"I understand that the initial salary offer is [insert offer amount], but is there any room for negotiation?"

This phrase is a polite way to ask if there is any flexibility in the salary offer. It opens up the conversation for negotiation without coming across as pushy or demanding.

"Can you tell me more about the benefits package that comes with this position? Would it be possible to adjust the salary offer to account for any gaps in the benefits package?"

This phrase acknowledges that salary is not the only factor in a compensation package. By asking about the benefits package, you can identify any areas where the package may fall short and negotiate for a higher salary to compensate for those gaps.

"I appreciate the offer and am excited about the opportunity to join your team. However, I was hoping we could work together to find a salary that reflects my experience and the value I can bring to the company."

This phrase shows gratitude for the job offer while also making it clear that you believe you deserve a higher salary. It's important to approach the conversation collaboratively and work together to find a solution that works for both parties.

Negotiating your salary during a job interview can be nerve-wracking, but with these usable phrases, you can communicate your value and negotiate a fair compensation package. Remember to do your research, approach the conversation collaboratively, and be confident in your worth.


Negotiating your pay and shooting your shot for a new promotion can be challenging and nerve-wracking. Why not do this with a coach who understands this and can help you define your 'Magic 3' and practice your negotiation skills so you approach your job search journey with confidence? Let's talk!

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