If your list of goals and resolutions this year include securing a higher salary, you’re not alone. In a tough economy the cost of living is constantly on the rise and the compensation you originally negotiated may be out of step with the value you represent to your employers. Odds are, though, that your employers have an even closer eye on their bottom line, so if you want a raise, you have to be strategic. For your best chance at a boost to your paycheque, follow these 5 steps.
Make Sure You Deserve A Raise
Gone are the days when you can expect a raise for time spent. You must have concrete evidence that you are performing above and beyond your pay grade and providing real value or ROI to your employers. If you’re adding to the bottom line, great–and take note of your accomplishments. These will make great bargaining tools later on.
Do “market research” by consulting Salary Calculator for your job title. Based on your experience and accomplishments in your current position, is your salary representative of the value of your position to employers? No matter how amazing you are, after all, your company will have a maximum allowance to pay anyone occupying your position, so even if you discover that you are underpaid based on your qualifications, it’s important to be realistic.
Know Your Employer and Your Industry
Earning less than you are worth is frustrating but that doesn’t mean your employer can afford to pay you more. Do some research on your industry–has it been hit hard by the recession? Are companies similar to yours struggling to avoid layoffs and other cutbacks? If so, pleas for a higher salary will likely fall on deaf ears. If possible, look into your employer’s public financial records to check their vitality. This will give you an idea how reasonable your requested salary is, and may even bestow you with confidence during the negotiation.
Timing Is Everything
No matter how pressing your desire for a higher salary, patience is key. The busiest times of the year, especially for your boss, are bad times to negotiate effectively. Do you know your company policies regarding performance reviews? This is the ideal time and place to discuss a raise, but is obviously not the only route to the pay raise. Review your boss’s schedule and coordinate a meeting a time that suits your boss. If you can strike while the iron is hot, your position will be stronger if you schedule the meeting after an accomplishment, like securing a major client, making a tough sale or solving a difficult problem for your company.
Prepare Your Portfolio
You want a higher salary–but so what? You have to prove you deserve one, not just to yourself anymore, but to your boss. Compile a list of your accomplishments, including money you’ve earned for your employers, client and customer satisfaction, growth figures, internal communication praising your accomplishments, and other documentation to support your value to your employer. Be sure to include any emails you received from your boss acknowledging your good work–this will remind your boss exactly how much support you provide.
Creating a portfolio for your boss to review serves three purposes. First, it makes you more confident because you know you will enter the meeting prepared, with realistic goals and data to back up your argument. Second, it allows your boss to review the data and pass it on to the higher-ups, who might hold the purse strings but be unaware your contributions. Lastly, you do the job of compiling your accomplishments for you boss, making their decision faster and easier to reach.
Be confident. Be prepared to negotiate for other perks in lieu of salary. Perhaps there are benefits, promotions, flex time, or other compensations your employer can provide instead of a raise. Send your boss a thank you email even if your request is denied, as this timestamps your meeting, especially if the answer is “try again later.” If your boss says no, ask what you can do to have them reconsider at a later date. If your raise depends on approval from higher-ups, make sure to follow up regularly and confirm when you can expect the raise to take effect.
- State a personal reason why you need the money, like a new home or unexpected expense. This information is too personal, very common and completely irrelevant.
- Be unreasonable. If you start too high, thinking you will be bargained down, you may shut down all negotiation before it can begin by proving you are out of touch with your employers.
- Demand as much as a co-worker. This not only makes you look very nosy but as though you cannot be trusted with sensitive or confidential information.
- Get emotional. Negotiating for a raise is stressful but taking rejection personally reflects poorly on your professionalism.
- Act entitled to a raise. In a company’s budget, every expense must be justified in how it contributes to the bottom line. You have to prove your case.
- Idly threaten to quit if you don’t get a raise. Unless you really do have another job lined up, threatening to quit is a no-win situation for you and your boss.
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