Whether you just landed a new job or you’ve worked in your position for over a year, you might find it intimidating to negotiate a pay raise. It’s tough to talk about money in the first place. It’s even tougher to ask for more. You want to make sure you are not overstepping your boundaries, or asking too much — but you also want to get paid what you deserve.
Negotiating can feel intimidating and hard. Start preparing by taking these steps.
Do Your Research
Before a job interview or an annual review with your manager, do some research on your position and salaries in your area. Start by looking at sites like Glassdoor and PayScale to see what others in your field and industry make.
You might find that you’re underpaid relative to what others in your area earn or that your salary is average. Knowing where you stand relative to others will help you ensure your request for a raise is within reason. If you’re underpaid, you know you have lots of room for growth. If your salary is pretty standard, focus on what kind of value you add to your company.
Enter a negotiation with an exact figure based on your research. Then get ready to ask for what you deserve.
Choose the Right Time
As the saying goes, timing is everything. A first interview is not an appropriate time to bring up salary and try to negotiate. Let the conversation happen further down the line.
If you are currently employed, wait until your performance review. If you work in a non-traditional workplace or do not have regularly scheduled reviews, make it a point to schedule a meeting with your boss.
Avoid busy times like the holidays or the weeks before big projects launch. Schedule a meeting ahead of time and let your boss know that you would like to chat about your long-term goals. Giving your boss notice can help you both prepare for the type of conversation you need to have.
Practice and Prepare
Negotiating is more like an art than a science — it requires a lot of practice and finesse to do it right. In your rehearsal, you’ll want to go over:
- Your recent accomplishments. Point out specific achievements or positive events that you made happen. For example, focus on how you’ve saved the company money or generated more revenue.
- Stats and figures that offer measurable success. “Sales are up 60%” carries a lot more weight than “sales are up.”
- Improved processes or procedures. Saving yourself, your boss, or your coworkers time is a way of saving the company money.
- Times when you have gone above and beyond. A negotiation is a presentation all about how valuable you are to a company. Demonstrate your commitment by pointing out how much you’ve already grown beyond your role, and talk about how you look forward to growing even more.
Practice your points in the mirror, then again with a friend. You want to sound confident, self-assured, and thoroughly prepared, so practicing ahead of time can help keep you from feeling flustered. Don’t try and memorize what you want to say; just familiarize yourself with what you will present.
Think through a variety of outcomes so you know how you want to respond if:
- They say no
- They give you a low offer
- They say “yes” immediately
- They offer more than you anticipated
If your employer says no, politely ask for feedback and seek to understand why. See if you can schedule another meeting to revisit the question six months from now. Find out what you boss or manager needs from you in order to be willing to increase your salary. Try this line: “If I reach these benchmarks and exceed your expectations, can we revisit this conversation in six months?”
Sometimes it’s not up to the person you’re speaking with. The company may be dealing with a budget issue, and your rejection is nothing personal. In other cases, your supervisor may give you specific reasons as to why they don’t think a raise is appropriate right now. Take that as constructive criticism and work to improve.
If the response is a lower offer than your desired salary, start negotiating. Negotiating with grace and tact requires you to give a fact-based explanation about why you believe you are worth more without sounding like you are complaining. Remember to check the private reasons you want a raise at the door. It is not professional to ask for a raise because your rent went up or you set a new savings goal. Only discuss your work and your performance. Remember, this conversation isn’t about you — it’s about the value you provide the company.
Create a Toolbox of Techniques and Resources
Practicing is one thing, but negotiating in the moment is something different altogether. Create a toolbox of techniques and resources that you can use during the actual negotiating process.
To start, check out:
- The Briefcase Technique by master negotiator Ramit Sethi. (After I published this post, Ramit released an awesome Ultimate Guide to Getting a Raise and Boosting Your Salary. It’s very in depth and totally free!)
- Check out free resources online like this comprehensive salary negotiation guide from PayScale.
Having a toolbox of techniques and resources you can reference can help you rock negotiating and get that raise you deserve.
Think of negotiating as a conversation. Break it down into small steps that lead to the desired outcome: Getting the raise you deserve. Focus on what you bring to the table and discuss how you plan on continuing to grow with the company. Make yourself the most valuable asset at your company — and show them exactly why you’re worth the extra money.