Ask Diane: "What are some good phrases to use when negotiating salary?"

Dear Diane,

What are some good phrases to use when negotiating salary? I don’t want to push too hard and put myself out of the running by asking too much, but at the same time I want to ensure that my needs are met. Please help!

- Nervous Negotiator

Dear Nervous Negotiator,

Great question! The so-called “negotiating” process in terms of salary can certainly be intimidating. However, there are a few unique characteristics regarding law and salary which should be pointed out. Salary can be a touchy subject, but here are just a few ideas. We all want to be paid fairly for the skills/experience/personal qualities which one brings to the table. At times, individuals can be too focused in looking only at salary, as opposed to the other features that the firm/role can give you. For instance, it might be worthwhile for you to consider a lesser salary (and stepping out of a challenging negotiation process) if the role provides i.e. further development and training to move you along your career path, and/or a collegial team who act as a strong resource and a strong social connection, etc. Remember as well that firms also have budgets and at times, it is difficult for the firm to pay a new employee a higher salary if they want to continue to be respectful of their longer-term employees.

Always try and remain realistic when balancing your salary expectations, skill set, and value when negotiating. “Negotiating” can be a bit of a moot point because law firms are very knowledgeable, meaning firms are well informed about how to appropriate salary ranges with an individual's level of experience, but granted, that doesn’t mean that your needs are not important. It is important that you do your research and are also educated on what the market is paying so that you are well-equipped to have these conversations.

Staff who are in senior positions will find that salary negotiation can reach more significant variances because of the special skills that these senior players bring to the firm. Juniors are not as easily able to negotiate because they need to first of all increase their experience. When considering negotiation, you also must research whether the market is able to supply a lot of competitive candidates for the role, or only a few candidates. Firms are far more willing to pay candidates a larger salary (or perks) to attract candidates to their doors. This would mean that you need to be educated in this regard as well. To make sure that I have answered your question specifically though, I’ve included a few articles¹ ² ³ which might give you an idea as to what actual “phrases” to use as well.

Click on the links below for more information! As an agency, we often hear candidates mention “negotiating” as if it is a “game”.

If you view it more so as an opportunity to do you research and outline your strengths to the firm, you may be pleasantly surprised, and find that the firm will see your value and be willing to pay a fair compensation

- Diane

Our In-House Career Coach Diane Cronk, has a Master’s in Counselling, and over 20 years of professional experience within Law. She specializes in developing strategic career moves; transitioning from one workplace to another; dealing with interpersonal conflict; fine-tuning communication skills; developing leadership and performance competencies and stress-related issues. Her opinions and advice are aimed at inspiring and supporting both employers and candidates. Need career advice? Ask Diane questions to to have your questions answered, or contact Arlyn recruiting at 604-681-4432 to find out if Diane is the coach for you! 

By submitting a query to Ask Diane, you grant Arlyn Recruiting permission to publish it on our websites. Your full name and contact details will never be included or distributed. Diane is expressing personal opinions and views and the advice offered is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose, nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. This column, its author and Arlyn Recruiting are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. Arlyn Recruiting reserves the right to edit correspondence for length and clarity and offers no guarantee that a response will be given to any particular question.


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