5 Tips for Negotiating the Pay Raise You Deserve
May 12, 2015 | Business and Careers
By Katie Morell
We negotiate every day of our lives. In the company of friends we discuss what to bring to a potluck. At work we negotiate with vendors and clients over project fees and with our bosses over pay raises.
For many of us, the latter negotiation is one of the hardest and is known to instill the most fear—so much so that many of us shy away from the act altogether. “The biggest mistake in negotiating is not doing it at all,” says Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute. “You need to negotiate, or you will likely leave money on the table.”
Here are five strategies to ease the fear of a salary negotiation and get what you’re asking for.
1. Prepare relentlessly. Fear is driven by a lack of knowledge about how the process will unfold, says Martin E. Latz, CEO of the Latz Negotiation Institute and author of Gain the Edge!: Negotiating to Get What You Want.
First, do your research. How much are people making in your position, geographical region and in a company of similar size? If you aren’t sure, look on sites like Salary Fairy, salary.com, glassdoor.com, payscale.com and indeed.com.
“The ability for each side to get a precise range for a position is more accurate and faster than it has ever been,” says Chapman, referring to both the employer and employee. He started consulting on salary negotiation more than 25 years ago. “Back in the ’80s, if you wanted to research salaries, you would have to go to industry associations and find salary surveys buried in books. It is so much better these days.”
Latz recommends coming up with the number for your ideal salary, then asking for a little more than that to leave room for negotiation. From there, start rehearsing.
“People need confidence to negotiate,” says Robin Bond, a workplace lawyer and author of How to Negotiate a Killer Job Offer. “You build confidence by preparing.”
2. Quantify your worth. Consider speaking in numbers when coming to the table to ask for an increased salary.
“Don’t just say you managed major accounts. Instead say, ‘My management of X account resulted in a 30 percent increase in sales that brought in an extra $200,000 to the bottom line,’” recommends Bond. “Think numerically and quantify what you’ve done. It will highlight your accomplishments as a result.”
She advocates keeping a log of your achievements and updating it on a weekly basis. That way when your review comes around, you will be prepared with a list of things you’ve done to help the company, thereby strengthening your argument for a compensation increase.
3. Consider a creative option. Salary negotiations don’t always need to revolve around money. If you are working for a company that you know doesn’t have the funds to give you a raise this year, consider asking for something else.
“Sometimes you can get your interests satisfied at a low or minimum cost to your employer,” says Latz. “Ask for flex time, an extra week off per year, a better parking spot, an office with a window, or the opportunity to work with another department.”
4. Make it a conversation. As nervous as you may feel, don’t go into a meeting prepared to give a monologue. Ask open-ended questions as part of your salary negotiation, Latz suggests. These questions can revolve around what your employer sees as a pay range for your role and how your responsibilities may change as a result of an increase in pay. Highlight, in a conversational way, how your experience warrants a higher pay and what you bring to the company.
Help get the discussion started by making an appointment to talk specifically about your salary. Bond recommends emailing your boss to ask for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the topic so he or she knows the angle of the meeting going in.
5. Watch your body language. “I keep my feet on the floor and don’t cross them when I’m doing a deal,” Bond says. “And I’m very conscious of my hands. I keep them face up on the table to convey a sense of vulnerability and openness to the conversation. I keep my tone of voice even, not high like Minnie Mouse or angry and bossy.
“When asking for a raise, I recommend telling your boss how happy you are to be there and giving them a genuine smile,” continues Bond. “That will go a long way.”
There are no guarantees in negotiation, but taking the time to prepare is essential. By following these tips, you will be on your way to a successful negotiation.
- Additional information: Whitepaper: Changing jobs? Don't overlook these top 5 considerations that can have a big impact on your financial picture.
Katie Morell is a writer and editor living in San Francisco. She specializes in business, travel, human interest and social justice topics. Her work has appeared in Hemispheres, BBC Travel, Crain’s Chicago Business, American Express OPEN Forum, USA Today, and other print and online publications.
Originally published on Northwestern MutualVoice on Forbes.com.