No one teaches a high school class on When and How to Negotiate Your Future Salary, so like balancing a checkbook and networking, it is a skill you have to learn as you go. The idea of talking to your boss about money and your worth as an employee can seem daunting, so we have assembled ten tips to help you through the process. As long as you plan ahead, there is no reason to fear asking for the raise you deserve.
1. Know the Right Time to Ask
Timing is everything. If you started working for the company two months ago, it is too early to look for a pay raise. If your there are rumors of layoffs or you know that your company is not doing well financially, it is also probably not a great time. But if your job and responsibilities have evolved since your salary was last adjusted, it is entirely reasonable to ask for a pay raise. If another company offers you a better salary, your supervisor will definitely see you differently and be reluctant to replace you with a new employee who needs training. Waiting until your boss is in a good mood will also help your case. Tell your boss what the meeting is about beforehand so they do not feel ambushed, and schedule it for early in the week so the paperwork doesn’t get shuffled to the side over the weekend.
2. Get Comfortable With the Idea of Negotiating
This tip is pointed specifically at the career woman. Women are less likely to ask for a salary increase than men, which hurts their ability to climb the career ladder. Men don’t have this problem because they don’t walk the same tightrope as women. On one hand, women who don’t ask for salary increases don’t get them. On the other, women who do ask for a raise may be seen as too “masculine,” or “aggressive.” Studies have shown that women are more likely to negotiate their salary when they were explicitly told that their salaries were negotiable. However, not every employer is going to reach out, so it’s ultimately up to you to go for it. Negotiating is an important skill to have, and it becomes much less daunting when you think of it as a simple interaction instead of a point of discomfort.
3. Know Your Strengths
When you go into a salary negotiation, your job is to sell yourself. You need to convince your employer that your strengths as a worker are of high value, so take some time beforehand to analyze what your particular strengths are. What makes you more deserving of a pay raise than your co-worker? What are you bringing to this company that no one else can? Write down your set of skills and bring them into the negotiation.
4. Know Your Number
When you’re going into a conversation about salary, you need to know exactly what you want, and that means numbers. There’s no room for uncertainty in getting what you want, so do your research beforehand. Websites like CareerOneStep, GlassDoor, and JobSearchIntelligence can help you find out the salary ranges for similar jobs in your industry and geographical area. Your personal experience, education, and productivity levels will determine where on that spectrum you fall. When you know what the correct range is, choose your target salary. Or, when in doubt ask for a 3% salary increase, which will correlate with the typical cost-of-living increase. Once you know what you are worth, you can begin the discussion.
5. Be Prepared to Ask For More than Money
Make a list of other benefits that are important to you. It is possible that your boss will be persuaded that you deserve a raise but will be unable to give it to you right away due to budget constraints. Or, they may ask you if you want anything besides a raise. In that case, open up a discussion about other compensation elements. Your manager may be more flexible about giving you extra vacation days, shares in the company, health benefits, additional training, and/or a promotion. Decide what is most important to you, and ask for it.
6. Keep the Company in Mind
Just because this meeting is about you, does not mean it has to be all about you. You are one part of a bigger whole – the company you work for – and you can talk about that. Your value is not just in how hard you work, but what you have done for the company. How you’ve made the business money, saved them money, brought in new business, and acted as a leader are all valid talking points. Speak to your manager about what the goals of the company are, and tell them how you hope to grow with the establishment in the future.
7. Get Ready To Compromise
Once you know what your target salary is, decide on your minimum salary requirement. There is going to be back-and-forth between you and your employer as you haggle over numbers. Most employers do not want to lowball their employees, but they will start off with a low number, knowing that you’ll start high. Make sure your target salary is a number your boss can realistically say yes to, and you should walk away from the discussion feeling like a winner.
8. Be Brave.
If you are going to pursue a pay raise, do it with confidence. Don’t make excuses for your boss about the economy not doing well, and do not worry about rejection. Going into that room full of pessimism will not help you get what you deserve. It’s normal to be nervous, but keep in mind: many employees fail to utilize the fact that their companies are willing to negotiate salary. Your meeting is not a war, but a discussion. Your boss will be aware that asking for a raise is not a radical move, and it’s not them against you. If you do not feel confident, fake it.
9. Ask Without Jeopardizing Your Job
Money can be a touchy subject, even when it is a practical discussion. You will want to be persuasive with your employer, but do not say anything that you will regret after you leave the room. Your boss will still be your boss tomorrow, so do not make any threats or ultimatums during negotiations. If you are afraid of coming off as a pushover, just remember to keep your tone friendly but assertive. Let your supervisor know that you are going to listen with a level head and try to understand where they are coming from, and they should do the same in return.
In order to ensure that the conversation with your boss goes well, and to help settle any nerves you may have, try a run-through with a friend or family member beforehand. Make it a point to practice the trickier points of negotiation: what will happen if your boss offers you a number too low, what you will do if you are asked to defend yourself as a worker, etc. Your partner can help you with your persuasive points, and you can even do multiple trial runs if it makes you feel more at ease. You will feel more comfortable talking to your boss when you know exactly what you want to say and how to say it.