Talking about money can be intimidating. In fact, 28% of professionals are uncomfortable negotiating their salary and 19% of professionals are afraid of being perceived as pushy, reveals a Payscale study.
But if you’re never having talks about compensation, you’re doing it wrong. The higher your annual salary, the more likely you are to have asked for a raise — and the more likely you are to have received it, according to Payscale. This has a compound effect over time.
So there is no way around those conversations if you want to increase your earning potential — and there is also an optimal way to have them. Whether you’re considering an offer from a new employer or want to ask your boss for a raise, it’s important to go into the convo prepared.
However, don’t mistake preparing with putting together a script and appearing unnatural. You want to arm yourself with key insights that will not only help you negotiate your salary, but also allow you to adapt to any curveballs thrown your way.
We’ve asked Natasha Tsitiridi, former senior-level headhunter and sales coach and business strategist for female entrepreneurs, for her best tips on talking about your salary. From recruiting execs to helping CEOs scale their companies to six figures, she is all too familiar with the topic of selling yourself in any setting — and getting paid.
Here are nine things you should always include in conversations about your salary. Embrace them and watch your income grow.
1. Specific selling points
First, if you want to negotiate your salary, you have to feel confident in the fact you’re the best person for the job. Then, you want to make sure to convey it.
“It’s really important that when you enter a salary discussion, you talk about the skills that are relevant to the job,” says Tsitiridi.
“When I was a headhunter I did specific training on this, as so many interviewees go into a negotiation and talk about all the amazing skills they have… that are not related to the job. Keep it specific.”
You’re awesome for many reasons — and it’s a great sign in terms of confidence if you’re able to list a lot of them. Just make sure you’re highlighting the strengths that are most pertinent to the situation.
2. Salary expectations
The last thing you want to do is enter a salary negotiation without having your desired outcome in mind. Doing so will only trip you up if you encounter objections.
“It’s super important to remember to have a number in mind. This can be a range, but not a huge range i.e., 150-200k, as this shows that you haven’t really thought about it,” says Tsitiridi.
Oh, and whatever number you come up with after doing market research and thinking of your ideal salary, add to it. “It’s always good to go slightly above what you are looking for, as [companies] very often undercut.”
3. Mentions of your soft skills
Soft skills are equally — if not even more — important than hard skills nowadays. So you want to be ready to talk about yours during any conversation about compensation. And if you want to make even more of a positive impact, Tsitiridi has a few recommendations on bringing the topic up.
Aim to discuss examples where your soft skills made a direct contribution to a company’s revenue, either because you increased retention in your team (the cost of replacing someone is huge), grew sales through your people skills or implemented resource-saving systems.
4. Passion for your work
“Why do you want this role? What impact do you want to make on the company and beyond?” says Tsitiridi. Those are questions you want to consider before negotiating your salary, as demonstrating passion for your work can play a huge factor in determining the outcome of the conversation.
The more you can genuinely tap into what drives you on a deeper level, the more it will come across. Grab a pen and paper and reflect beyond the surface reasons you might want a role.
5. Flexibility and compromise
“When it comes to salary negotiation, being flexible on things like holidays or bonuses might give you an edge. Don’t be super rigid; this is a negotiation and a compromise, not a one-way negotiation. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t compromise,” says Tsitiridi.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be flexible to the point of self-abandonment. So preparing for a money talk is both about knowing what you’d feel comfortable compromising on and what your non-negotiables are. You’ll be better equipped if you’re put on the spot and asked to make concessions.
“Use your head and not just your heart – detach from the role itself when in a negotiation; be logical, not emotional,” recommends Tsitiridi.
“If you know your number and the absolute bottom line you’ll accept, have the confidence to walk away from an offer a penny less than your number. This will show them you are serious and not just playing a game.”
7. Other offers on the table
While many professionals use the tactic of mentioning other job offers as leverage, not many pull it off. It’s a tricky one, but it can work in your favor if you know how to bring it up.
“Bring this up gracefully and not as a reaction. You want to use this as leverage but not as a threat. Employers really do get influenced by ‘fear of loss,’ says Tsitiridi.
“Do not say you will walk away from an offer if you won’t – bluffing won’t work. Also, do not use other interviews/offers you have on the table to negotiate unless you genuinely have them and will be happy to accept them should you not get the salary you have asked for.”
8. Long-term vision
Before having a conversation about your salary, it’s likely you’ll be super focused on the upcoming interaction. But it’s critical to think long-term as well. Where do you see yourself going with the company? How do you see your role and contributions evolving?
“Employers will be more flexible with salaries if they see the commitment and someone who is there to stay and has a clear vision for the role,” according to Tsitiridi.
9. Positive and confident language
What you say matters — and how you say it too. The goal is to communicate in a positive and confident manner. And there are a couple of very practical pitfalls to avoid.
“Do not apologize in a negotiation. Saying sorry can signal that you are backing down. Try to avoid negative language. Don’t use phrases like ‘no, that doesn’t work for me.’ Instead, use “I would prefer,’” says Tsitiridi.