Want to negotiate a pay rise? We understand if you're being hesitant about it. Salary negotiations are among everybody's least favourite things to do.
According to CareerBuilder.com, 56% of people have never asked for a raise, and 49% of new employees accept the first offer they're given without any negotiation.
Not many feel confident talking to their boss. But in fact, it has never been easier than now. So if you feel ready, you better take all the courage you have and step up for what you want.
In any case, it’s good to plan ahead before entering the office. To be successful, you need to consider all the aspects of salary negotiations — from how much you should ask for to the most suitable time to make your request.
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1. Be clear and straightforward
First, don’t waffle. Be straightforward, don't beat around the bush. If you want to discuss a pay rise, you need to be direct and say so explicitly:
- I’d like to discuss updating my salary to reflect my new skills and the value I bring to the team.
It’s best to make an appointment with a clear objective. Send a meeting invite or an email along the lines of “I’m hoping we can sit down, and I’d like to make the case to you for revisiting my salary.”
2. No pressure
Avoid making any ultimatums. They simply don't work:
- I need to get a pay rise by April 20th, or else I'll quit.
Trying to put your employer under pressure is just like a kamikaze attack. And if you want to survive, you need to change your tactics.
See the negotiations as a collaborative process instead. Keep your employer on board. Reaffirm your commitment to the company and show that you're fond of your work.
After all, it's a unique opportunity to create a compensation package that makes sense for both you and for them. And the last thing you'd want is to miss it, right?
3. Don’t get too personal
Don’t complain. Negative language and whining does more harm than good. You need to state the facts and use objective arguments to reach your goals.
Also, avoid using personal circumstances as a reason why you are asking for a raise. Point to your personal success and outstanding performance instead:
- I’ve led two highly successful projects and my responsibilities have doubled.
4. Timing is everything
Good timing can determine whether or not you’re rewarded. Salary upticks are generally granted only once a year and the negotiations need to take place before that happens.
However, the timing will also depend on the mood of the economy and the demand for employees in your industry. Highly competitive fields like finance and tech are particularly raise-friendly.
Overall, there are only two instances when you can get away with a more frequent paycheck bump:
- You’re an outstanding performer and can make a strong case for why you deserve a raise sooner rather than later.
- You work in a competitive industry like tech with the urgent need for quality employees.
5. Have reasonable expectations
Before you decide how much of a raise to request, do some homework. If your company grants employees an annual raise, you’ll probably be aware of the approximate budget.
For yearly upticks, companies usually budget 5% or less. Requesting an unreasonable increase can seem arrogant and inappropriate, but trying to push the limits by 1-2% might work, especially if you really excelled over the year.
6. Do your research to know your value
Do you already know how much additional income you’d like to ask for? It might be helpful to look around and discover how much your colleagues earn to place a reasonable request:
- I found that the average market rate for customer service specialists in our area is 12% higher than what I’m making.
If that fails, sites like Glassdoor, Linkedin Salary and PayScale are a good starting point. They'll help you figure out what employers are paying people who have similar credentials to yours.
These websites provide a good baseline for the salary range in your industry within your geographic area. But don’t be limited by what you see there. If you feel you're worth more, nothing should stop you from asking for more.
7. Ask your colleagues for support
Something we often forget is that companies and organizations are teams. Your value as an individual is important, but your value in the team is equally as vital.
If your colleagues enjoy working with you, it’s a great asset for the company and something every boss should realize. But to score the raise you deserve, you need to ask them to back you up.
Making senior colleagues vouch for your work will go a long way in any salary negotiations. Find a few trusted voices in your workplace that know your value and would willingly speak on your behalf.
8. Use clear arguments
Here’s the trick. Keep a file of notes to keep track of your accomplishments throughout the year. Jot down all the praise you’ve received, difficult task that you tackled like a pro and new projects you’ve taken on.
When it comes to the negotiations, you'll have all the arguments ready up your sleeve. There’s probably a lot you did that your boss had no clue about. Toot your own horn. Make it clear you’re performing above expectations:
- As the last 3 quarterly reviews show, I’ve been consistently performing at a high level over past 9 months.
Use clear examples to demonstrate how you’ve gone beyond your basic job description. These might include:
- Revenue you earned
- Money you saved
- Customer satisfaction you achieved
- Tight deadlines you met or beat
- Solutions you implemented
- Products or services you improved
- Initiative you demonstrated
- Extra hours you worked without overtime pay
9. Convince your manager
Remember that this is a business meeting and your goal is to convince your boss that you are worth a higher salary. Ask yourself following questions that can help you formulate clear arguments why you deserve a raise:
- Have all your colleagues in similar roles recently had a pay increase?
- When was the last time you had one? Was it more than two years ago?
- Has your output, profitability or job specification increased or grown?
10. Use some numbers
Numbers talk. They can back up your arguments and help you succeed. Come to the negotiations with specific contributions. Note down anything you can quantify, for example:
- Reduced expenditures by 25%
- Increased revenue by 40%
- Increased employee retention by 10%
11. Tame your body
Many people are unaware of that, but we give out hundreds of signals via our body when we speak. We voice our emotions subconsciously through things like gestures, posture or facial expressions.
What you definitely don’t want to do during the negotiations is to appear nervous or tentative. Your boss doesn’t need to be a psychologist to pick up your subconscious signals.
Your body can give away more than you’d like. It's easy for anyone to see when someone is being defensive, angry or even when they are bluffing.
To keep calm and remain convincing at the same time, speak slowly and hold relaxed eye contact. This approach will pay off in any situation where you need to make a killer first impression — such as your next date or upcoming job interview.
12. Call out or wait
Once you’re ready to talk numbers, use one of these two techniques:
- name a specific sum yourself
- wait for your manager’s suggestion
True, there might be some advantage to the latter. In the best-case scenario, the manager might come back with a higher figure than you’d expected.
But you’re also risking that the offer can be lower that you’d hoped. If that happens, tell your boss frankly what you were hoping for and suggest a compromise.
13. Wait for a response
After you’ve made your case and laid your cards in the table, give your manager a chance to respond. Silence and open questions are great tools to show your respect during the negotiations.
Avoid strong assertions and confrontation with your employer. Ask for advice and opinion instead:
- I’ve been thinking about my increasing workload and how that might be reflected in my pay. What do you think?
14. Be willing to negotiate
A pay rise is not the only thing that's worth negotiating. If your manager refuses to reward you for your hard work financially, identify things like extra vacation or more flexibility that you could ask for instead.
Establish priorities and think about benefits you're willing to trade off for an increased payroll.
What about getting to work from home at least once per week or having five additional vacation days a year? If none of this works, the least your manager can do is cover your gym membership!
15. Be ready for a ‘no’
Well, rejection is hard to hear, but don’t get frustrated. Prepare for it and reply with something along the lines of ‘What would it take for me to earn a raise in the future?’
If the manager avoids to give you a reasonable answer, it might as well mean that it will never happen. Which, in turn, might be a good reason to start looking for a new job. Hooray!
16. Follow up with an email
Make sure that whatever you agree on needs to be put in writing. If the manager tells you to ask again in a half year’s time, make a note in a follow-up email:
- Thank you for the meeting and your thoughts — you suggested that I should ask again about salary in six months time, and that’s really helpful.
The email gives you a paper trail, at least. And that’s something that might help you a lot when you’ll be opening up your salary negotiations in future.
17. Show respect
When it comes to business, manners often make the difference between succeeding and failure. During the negotiations, maintain your professionalism by showing respect and expressing gratitude towards the person you're talking to:
- Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today!
Go one step further — stay polite even if you didn't achieve what you hoped for. Managers are much more willing to listen and consent to employees that show them respect. And you never know when you'll need to talk to the exact same person again.
Take a deep breath and negotiate a pay rise with confidence
There're not many things in our lives we enjoy less than asking for a pay rise. It's one of the long-neglected business skills we need to brush up to rediscover its power.
Use our 17 tips to think about the points that can be particularly useful in convincing your boss. Good preparation will help you navigate through the discussion and get the raise you want.
Setting a clear objective and strategy for the salary negotiations is the only way that can help you succeed. Nobody will hand you more money just because you think you’re awesome.
Because if you want something, you simply need to go get it yourself.
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