A salary negotiation can feel stressful. Even though you work for your employer to receive remuneration, discussing money with your boss can feel socially taboo. And, it can feel even more awkward to discuss your “worth” to the company and debate whether you deserve more money. Plus, there’s the added concern of hard feelings – what if the negotiation doesn’t result in the outcome you want? Or, what if the company believes you’re going to look elsewhere for more money down the road?
Fortunately, salary negotiations can be easy with a little bit of preparation. Here are five steps to get you through the negotiation process so you can start working for the salary you deserve.
1. Do Your Research Before Your Salary Negotiation
Except in unique circumstances, companies usually look to pay the prevailing market rate for the job. Yes, a company can try to hire for less (and many do), but most businesses expect to pay somewhere around the market rate for any given position.
Therefore, before you bring up your salary at work, you must first compare your current remuneration with the expected wage for your profession and experience. In particular, the trick is to identify whether you are receiving compensation below market value, at market value, or above market value.
If your current compensation is below market value, the best research you can bring is hard evidence of being paid below the average wage for your job. Look for job postings, salaries on sites like Glassdoor, and anything else to bolster your case that your employer is underpaying you. You don’t need to print any evidence out, but compile a mental list of places where you’ve discovered that other people doing similar jobs are receiving more money.
However, if your current compensation is already at or above market value, you’ll likely need to do other research to negotiate your salary. Instead of showing why the company is underpaying you relative to competitors, you’ll need to show why your value warrants a wage above the market average.
There are a few successful ways to do this. The first is to highlight how your job, knowledge, and experience go above and beyond what someone else would offer. For example, you may have more credentials, education, or deep industry knowledge than someone else. Or, you may perform duties above and beyond what your job description states. You may be receiving your old wage, but the company may have recently expanded the scope of your responsibilities.
The research you bring to the negotiation must make a convincing case for why a higher salary is necessary. Compile that list and have a few facts on hand for when you enter the talks.
2. Prepare Your Pitch
Before you negotiate your salary, take some time to prepare your pitch. You’re going to want to sound professional, clear, and concise. However, it is essential to remember that you know your boss and what is likely to work best for them.
You must also bring up a few facts you have found in your research. Always ensure that what you raise in your speech backs up the research you found. Don’t embellish or exaggerate, as that will weaken your overall case.
For example, you might have a pitch that goes something like this:
“Hey, I was looking at some things online and discovered that an average person working in accounts receivable with my experience earns about £2,000 more than me. I then verified this on Glassdoor UK and LinkedIn. I have had consistently solid performance reviews and have been responsible for processing £5 million in receivables for this company. Would it be possible to please look into this and see if there’s a way to bring my compensation in line with current market conditions?”
Notice two things in this pitch. First, it does not come off as demanding or arrogant. This pitch is about bringing your salary in line with the current market. It’s possible that your employer does not know the current accounts payable rate and does not realise you could make more elsewhere. Second, it briefly mentions your research and accomplishments to give your manager some context as to why they should seek approval for your request.
Unless your manager is the head of the company and can issue a raise on the spot, your manager will likely need to take some time to process this request and run it by all the relevant people. Your manager may ask you for your sources, so ensure you have those links and that research ready to share.
3. Find the Right Time with Your Manager
One of the most important keys to a successful salary negotiation for a raise is finding the right time to speak to your manager. For example, if you work in construction, do not speak to your manager about a raise as you are both walking along an iron beam 100 metres in the sky!
Instead, wait until you and your manager have some dedicated 1-on-1 time to make your request. Or, if you don’t have a regularly-scheduled 1-on-1, ask your manager for a quick meeting when it’s convenient for them.
Picking (or scheduling) the right time for your raise request can be the difference between having it well-received and having your manager dismiss it on the spot! After all, managers want to give these requests their undivided attention so they can listen to your concerns and act appropriately.
4. Make Your Pitch and Be Professional at All Times
The next step, of course, is to make your pitch. It’s also essential to remember to be professional before, during, and after your pitch.
Remember that there is a good chance that your manager will not be able to approve or deny your request during your salary meeting. Also, remember that this meeting is strictly business – you are providing a service for your employer. If you have a convincing case, it’s reasonable for you to expect your employer to adjust your remuneration for the service you provide. Your manager, especially if they have experience, has frequently handled raise requests. While it may feel new to you, they’ve seen it many times.
Assume positive intent on your employer’s part and be professional in your demeanour. Do not get combative or argumentative. If your employer provides feedback on why the raise request either won’t receive approval or may not receive support, listen to that feedback and consider it. For example, your manager may say that while your performance thus far has been good, you’ve already received above-average pay increases. Doing another is unlikely, given the current economic situation.
Consider feedback like that and think about it within the context of your request – perhaps there is a way to spin the feedback you receive into a reason to approve the request. Or maybe you and your manager can turn the feedback into a concrete work plan that will result in the raise you want down the road.
5. Follow Up and Thank Everyone for Their Time and Efforts
Regardless of the conversation’s result, follow up with all involved and thank them for their efforts. Also, use that opportunity to reiterate your request, preferably in writing, so that you have it as documentation. In your follow-up, you can include references supporting your request (links to articles or salaries on a job search site, for example).
As was the case during your initial conversation, ensure that your email or other follow-up conversation is respectful and polite. Make sure it summarises your discussion and ends with the tone that you hope you can continue to excel and grow in your present company.
Do not threaten to quit or leave if you don’t get the desired result. Do not threaten to start looking for jobs. Instead, focus on this job and why you want to stay in your current role for higher compensation.
Of course, if you feel that you can find better employment elsewhere, you can always seek new positions. Don’t bring your job search into your negotiations, however.
Salary Negotiation Is Possible: You Can Get the Raise You Deserve!
Negotiating a higher salary at work is much more achievable than people may realise at first. It starts with quality research and consistent, clear evidence of why you should have a higher salary. Then, you must practise your pitch and find the right time with your manager. Deliver your pitch concisely using an easy-to-understand manner. Use your rapport with your boss to find the right way to ask for this salary increase. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s business – you’re providing a service in exchange for compensation. If your request is reasonable and based on evidence, you should ask for it! Once you’ve had the conversation, follow up and thank everyone for considering it.
It may be an uncomfortable conversation for you to have, but your manager has to discuss salaries regularly. If you believe you deserve more money, go for it. With determination and grit, you’ll make the money you want!