Watch your words! Avoid these common – and costly – salary-negotiation mistakes.

Don't listen to the critics – the job market isn't all that bad. In fact, in January of 2018, it was reported that the UK pay growth rate had officially outpaced national inflation. So it's true that the average wage is rising and unemployment is falling, but where does that leave you?

If you're about ready to ask for more money during the negotiation process, you need to prepare yourself for a tricky conversation. Negotiating salary can be like walking a tightrope, and you want to make sure you don't make a wrong move. Let's take a look at some of the words and phrases to avoid when it comes to salary negotiations.

"I accept (your first offer)"

If you accept the first offer you're given, it is not a negotiation at all. Remember that this is supposed to be a two-way conversation and the initial job offer is the starting point. You might feel nervous and scared or just want the whole thing over with, but you have to be savvier than that.

Take the time to engage in the conversation and understand that most companies don't present their final offer right away and expect a little wiggle room. Make a compelling case and explain what you bring to the table and discuss what your new responsibilities and role will be. Don't be quick to say 'yes'. You might regret it by accepting a low ball job offer!

"I was thinking more (this salary)"

On the other hand, you shouldn't be throwing out numbers left, right and center. To put it simply, your potential employer or hiring manager has to lead this conversation. They should be the first person to bring any kind of deal or specific number range to the table.

Once you've heard their offering, you can start negotiating up to your desired salary. One of the best successful salary-negotiation tips is to spend more time talking about the role ‒ and how you'll be able to provide value in the position with your key skills and work experience ‒ rather than the money.

"I need (this salary) to pay for my wedding/child/new home"

Of course you want to be comfortable ‒ doesn't everyone? Unfortunately, your employer doesn't actually owe you anything. They are under no obligation to help you save for a home, pay for your wedding, or make sure that your child goes on holiday. That's your private business and you should keep it that way.

Trying to guilt-trip your current or potential new employer into giving you a pay rise is a shady tactic and it's not likely to get you far. That's just not how to negotiate salary during the job interview process. It comes across as unprofessional and is likely to make your employer reconsider where your priorities lie.

"I know how much Sandra is on and she's always late!"

What has Sandra got to do with this? Most businesses don't like employees discussing their salaries with one another and here's why. When you start using other staff members' salaries as leverage, you've already lost your case. 

What's more, bringing Sandra down isn't going to look professional or get you a higher salary. All it shows is that you're not a team player and that you believe you're above your fellow co-workers. While confidence is always a good thing, arrogance is not. Leave everyone else out of it.

"I'm sorry, I know that business is slow but…"

What are you saying here? First, unless you're extremely high up in the business, you're unlikely to fully understand its finances. Claiming to know more than you do is a mistake and won't kick the conversation off well.

Plus, apologising before you've even asked for anything makes you look meek. When you start off in this manner, it's going to be clear to your employer that you're too scared to take the next step and you're not leadership material. Be confident in your value! When you show that you're confident in yourself, your employer will start to be confident in you too.

"If I don't get more money, I'll be forced to quit!"

This isn't a soap opera, which means that you shouldn't be throwing out ultimatums. When thinking about how to negotiate salary, you have to be somewhat coy. Of course, it's always a savvy move to look for new opportunities so that you have options, but you don't need to let your employers in on this little fact.

Serving up a phrase like this one will make you look unreasonable… because you are being unreasonable. Right now, your employer holds all the cards. Should they offer you a base salary that's way below what you expect, you may want to explore other avenues. However, keep things civil in the meantime and keep your current job while you need it.


Ready to get that rise you've been dreaming about? You'll have a far better chance of getting a fair offer that you deserve if you use these salary-negotiation tips. Remember, you need to be confident in your value and how much your role is worth before you walk into the room. Be sure to avoid the above negative words and phrases and be open to a mature, professional conversation.

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