Negotiating – How to Get Your Next Raise or Promotion

two men shaking hands

The process of asking for a raise or promotion is similar to a mating dance — if you don’t complete each step correctly, you don’t win the prize. The urge to burst in your manager’s office and launch into an “I’m underpaid” sermon is tempting, but it’s not the way to win yourself a bigger paycheck. Complete the checklist below before having the “big talk” and you’ll be reaping the rewards all the way to the bank.

Step #1: Ask yourself if you deserve one

Have you been a team-player? Do you regularly go above and beyond the call of duty? Has it been over a year since your last pay increase? Ask yourself if you deserve it (and be honest) rather than asking yourself if you need it. A rent increase or new car payment does not warrant a raise and should not be used as a factor in negotiations.

Step #2: Don’t forget to smile

If you go into the conversation with threats and demands, your manager will immediately be put on the defensive. Be confident, approachable and pleasant. You’ll receive a more positive response from your manager and will have remained professional throughout the process.

Step #3: Make an appointment

All serious conversations with your manager should be scheduled ahead of time (e-mail is fine). Let your boss know that you are requesting a formal review and would like to discuss re-negotiating your salary/position. Schedule approximately 60 minutes for the conversation, and be sure to cover all of the steps below before requesting the meeting.

In order to determine what you should be receiving for compensation, you first need to find out what you’re worth. To see how your current salary compares with equivalent roles in the marketplace, check out HireStrategy Salary Guide.

Before settling on a figure, take the following company factors into consideration:

What is the typical increase given? Do they have a policy on raises (i.e. maximum 10%)?
How often are raises given to employees (bi-annually, annually)?
Be clear on what you are requesting. Go in there with a solid number in mind (try to avoid giving ranges as you will usually end up at the low end); however, don’t give the impression you are unwilling to negotiate. Say something like, “I propose an 8% increase to my current salary for the following reasons…”.

NOTE: Depending on the company, a typical raise is between 5-15%.

Step #4: Prepare your argument

Preparation is everything. If you don’t have your position well organized and fully-supported before you walk into the meeting, you might as well cancel it. Here are a few of the talking points you should have prepared:

  • Personal Achievements
    Highlight areas within your professional development where you have shown marked improvement (i.e. management style, listening skills, verbal communication). Not only will your boss know that you take his or her feedback seriously, but that you have also taken the initiative to improve in those areas.
  • Company Contributions
    Cite your most recent accomplishments that have positively impacted the company, group and/or client relations and highlight those that will benefit future projects. Discuss your professional track record by citing specific areas in which you excel (i.e. deliver projects on time, under budget, effective management style). Document your achievements by keeping a weekly journal so it’s handy when you need it.
  • Client/Peer Kudos
    Reference specific, unsolicited praise and admiration you’ve received from higher-ups or clients. These endorsements speak volumes about your professional integrity and give evidence to the fact that your work is noticed by others.

Step #5: Keep your mouth shut

Whether you get your raise or not, do not discuss your raise with co-workers. Pay varies from person to person and employees who become privy to the paychecks of others may become resentful and feel betrayed. Your manager is sure to hear the grumbles and be less than impressed with your lack of discretion. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and keep your compensation package to yourself.

Step #6: Plan your response

You should at least consider your response if your manager comes back with a counter-offer. Don’t feel discouraged, since most issues surrounding money go several rounds before a final settlement is reached. If you cannot agree on a dollar amount, see what else you can negotiate. If you are denied an increase, it may be time to re-evaluate your current situation. Search HireStrategy jobs for new and exciting opportunities.

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