4 Words You Need to Use to Get a Higher Starting Salary

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Laura Browne524
I help women get more of what they want at work.

You’ve gotten through the interviews. You’re excited about the position and they finally make the offer. You want to take it right away, but you wonder if you should try to negotiate. 

You absolutely should try to get the highest starting salary you can — and you can with one simple sentence.

When you get the salary offer, thank the other person and reinforce why you’re the right choice for the job. Then pause and say these four words: “is there any flexibility?”

Then, stop talking.

When we’re nervous, we may keep talking and say things that aren’t helpful and ruin our case. If you don’t stop yourself, you might say something like, “Of course, I love the job, and I’ll take it no matter what the salary is”.

Instead, just wait for the other person to talk, even if it feels uncomfortable. Just wait. If you’re talking to a recruiter their answer may be that they don’t know. If they say that, all you need to do is respond with a simple, “Would you please check and get back to me?”.

Stay positive and let them know how excited you are, but don’t accept until they let you know if the salary is negotiable. You have the most salary leverage before you start a job — use it.

I gave this advice last year to someone who was extremely uncomfortable with the idea and questioned if it was really okay to ask for more money. I was quick to tell her yes, it is okay to ask and you need to try. She decided to say the four words — “Is there any flexibility?— and got an extra $5,000.

Sometimes the recruiter’s response will be immediately positive when you ask. This happened to someone I was helping a few months ago. She was applying for a government job and didn’t think that there was any flexibility, but she decided to try. As soon as she asked, the interviewer said, “Of course there’s flexibility.” This led to a 15% increase in starting salary.

When the person was telling me about it later, she shared that it was kind of annoying. She said that if there was flexibility, why didn’t the interviewer just tell her? Why did she have to ask?

Yes, that would make it so much easier, but the fact is that interviewers don’t feel it’s their job to tell you that there may be more money available. It’s your job to negotiate. From my years in corporate Human Resources, I know that in most situations there is a salary range. The interviewer will offer you what they think you will accept. Often, there is additional money available, but you won’t know unless you ask.

Yes, it can be very uncomfortable to ask for more money, but isn’t worth being uncomfortable for a few minutes in order to have a higher starting salary? A few difficult minutes could be worth thousands to you.

Remember, no one is going to hand you extra money. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Browne is a corporate trainer, author, speaker, and certified business coach who’s written for Forbes and has been quoted as a business expert in major publications including Cosmopolitan, Family Circle magazine, and USA Weekend. Go to https://www.careertipsforwomen.com/ for access to a free online course on How To Get A Raise and use coupon code FGB to get 20% off other online courses.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for salary negotiations? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!