Negotiating Pay? Keep These Phrases Out of Your Mouth

These seven phrases can cost you money—or even a job offer. Choose your words wisely.

Negotiating Pay? Keep These Phrases Out of Your Mouth

You’ll need to be persuasive—not aggressive.

Finally, after making it through a grueling interview process you receive that job offer you’ve been gunning for all along. Still, there’s one more hurdle to cross, and that’s salary negotiation.

Though salary isn’t the only factor to consider when weighing a job offer—other incentives, such as a signing bonus, flexible work schedule, or relocation assistance, may help sweeten the deal—getting a fatter paycheck would certainly be nice.  

To get a higher salary, however, you’ll have to do some negotiating. Now, here’s a lesson that may surprise you: What you don’t say is just as (or potentially even more) important than what you do say.

Don’t want to put your foot in your mouth? Here are seven phrases to avoid uttering when negotiating salary.

“The original offer works for me.”

According to a survey by global staffing firm Robert Half, 55% of workers tried to negotiate a higher salary during their last job offer, which means nearly half of job seekers still don’t negotiate their salary. By not negotiating, you could very well be leaving money on the table; after all, the poll also found that 70% of hiring managers don't expect job candidates to accept their initial salary offer.

Sure, asking for money can be uncomfortable. However, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

“My current salary is…”

Revealing what you’re earning at your current job can hurt you. Don't volunteer that information. When you're changing jobs, you want to get paid based on your market value—not what you're earning at the moment.

In fact, it’s even illegal today in some cities and states for employers to ask job candidates about their salary history. Still, if a hiring manager asks you what you’re currently making, Vicki Salemi, Monster’s career expert, recommends this pivot: "Could you tell me what the range for this position is?" Once they answer, state what salary range you’re looking for. “This way, you avoid setting the bar too low based on your current pay,” Salemi says.

“I want more than that.”

Don’t just ask for more money—name a specific dollar amount you’re looking for based on market research you’ve done (i.e., how much the average worker, with your level of experience, makes in your region). A better approach would be to say, “You offered me X. If you can offer me Y, I would accept the job, and here’s why I’m worth that number.”

“I need more money because I have student loans to pay.”

We all have living expenses—rent, car payments, student debt—which is why they shouldn’t be your basis for requesting a higher salary. Hang your negotiation strategy on the value that you’d bring to the company.

“I hate to ask for more, but…”

Never apologize for asking for more money—it makes it seem like you don't actually think you deserve what you're asking for.

Similarly, don’t make the mistake of saying, “I don’t know if you have room in the budget, but I could really use more money.” That makes it easy for the hiring manager to deny you.

"I'm a top performer, and I expect to be paid at the top of your salary scale.”

If you want to sound rude and abrasive, this will do the trick. Nobody will want to work with you. Plus, just stating that you’re a “top performer” isn’t compelling—you have to show why you’re among the top talent in your industry.

“I have a lot of other companies trying to recruit me.”

Being courted by another employer? Having another job offer can make you a more attractive job candidate, but says there’s a better way to leverage your position: “I have a competing offer that will pay me X, but I think this job would be a better fit.”

Moreover, this tactic can give the hiring manager a reason to nudge their boss to offer you a higher salary.

Get smart

This isn’t the only time you’ll need to be persuasive in the workplace. Having strong communication skills are critical at every stage of your career. Want tips to help you improve in this and other areas? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get career advice, job search tips, and workplace trends sent directly to your inbox. There’s a lot to know when it comes to jobs, and we know it can feel overwhelming at times, but with help from the experts at Monster, you’ll be primed for action.