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Unless every company you work for is great about regularly revisiting your salary and ensuring that it reflects market rate for your work and the level of your contributions in your role, you will probably be asking for a raise at some point in your career. Salary negotiations shouldn’t be the fight to the finish that people often imagine when thinking about how to handle such a discussion.
Here are seven steps you can take to negotiate a raise and handle the response, whether it's positive or negative.
A recent survey of over 160,000 workers by salary data company, Payscale, revealed that only 37% of people are willing to ask for a raise. But that same survey found 70% of those people who DID ask, got it. So, don’t sit back and wait for your employer to offer you one. If it’s been more than a year since your salary was last discussed and you’ve been doing excellent work, you can proactively start a conversation with your boss.
Two things about timing: First and foremost, the right time to ask is when you’ve established a track record of accomplishment that you can point to (A raise is recognition of what you have accomplished, not what you’re going to accomplish). If you haven’t been in the job for at least a year, it’s a good idea to wait. Also, most employers only give increases once a year so if you’ve received a raise within the current year, you probably should wait to ask for your next one.
Second, be thoughtful about whether the time feels right or not. It might not be best to approach your manager when they’re busy or having a bad day or if you know your performance hasn’t quite met expectations as of late. On the other hand, if you’ve just done a great job on something, it might be an especially good time to ask.
Don’t assume that your boss knows everything you’ve accomplished. You need to make a compelling case that outlines how you’ve contributed to the success of the company. Don’t say you “deserve” a raise; explain why you’ve “earned” it. That means that you should reflect on your achievements in the last year and the impact you’ve had on your team and your organization. If you’re having trouble coming up with specific accomplishments, think about major obstacles you faced in your job and how you solved challenges. Express your ambition and your loyalty to the company’s future instead of focusing on the current challenges or difficulties you’re experiencing in your job situation.
There are also a few things you should NOT mention: Your rent went up, gas prices are making your commute expensive, you’re planning a wedding, your kid’s getting ready to go off to college — these are important to you, but they aren’t relevant to a salary discussion. And, resist the temptation to mention what your coworkers earn. The only thing that’s relevant right now is your worth to the company.
Surprisingly, people often ask for a raise without knowing where their current pay fits into the going rate for their work. It’s not reasonable to expect your employer to pay much more than the market rate, so it’s important to know what the market rate for your position is. Because certain variables come into play, it’s not always easy to determine what that is. Salary websites can provide broad data, but they’re not especially accurate at the individual level. Similar job titles can often represent different levels of responsibility, and a job in a suburban setting may not carry the same salary range as the same job in a large metropolitan area. You can often get good information, though, by talking with recruiters and staffing professionals whose job it is to know these things.
Sometimes people worry that they’ll put their job in jeopardy by asking for a raise – that their manager will think they’re “pushy,” or worse, replace them with someone willing to do the work for less. Your boss will likely be considering:
Once you’ve done your due diligence in determining what you’re worth and why, and identified the right time to have the salary conversation, it’s time to write down your talking points and practice what you will say with a trusted friend or family member until you feel confident and your key messages are well polished.
Sometimes no amount of negotiating will get you the money you want. But, if your boss indicates that they would like to give you a raise if the company budget weren’t so tight, consider asking for other incentives (additional vacation days or flex time for example) in lieu of money.
Even if the answer is still no, you could reply with “What would it take for me to earn a raise in the future?” You want to strike the right balance between advocating for yourself and illustrating your value to your company, so remember to end on a good note, be polite and gracious.
Everyone would like to believe their worth is so obvious that they shouldn’t have to negotiate a raise. Asking for a raise or promotion can be intimidating but with the right support and a plan in place you can go into the conversation with confidence. Akka Modis, soon to become Akkodis, is here to stand with you in your career journey. Whether it’s finding a new role or leveling-up in your current one, we can help!