how to negotiate a pay raise

Asking for a raise can be scary, but it’s doable and should be done if you truly deserve one. Here are a few tips on how to negotiate a pay raise. But, before we get started, let’s answer a few questions.

Have you been there for at least one year? If you haven’t been there for at least a year, stop. Unless you’ve taken on many more responsibilities or moved into a new position, you may not have a foot stand on.

Do you have a performance review coming up soon? If you have a performance review coming up soon, wait to discuss a pay raise during your review.

Is the company doing well financially? See “consider your company’s context” section for more on this.

Have you taken on new responsibilities or a new position? If not, then you really need to have a solid reason for requesting a raise. See “track accomplishments” section.

Things to do

Track accomplishments

If you want a raise, you need to be able to articulate why you deserve one. So, first things first, track your accomplishments. Start a spreadsheet or word document and jot down your accomplishments and achievements regularly. This will also help you come performance review time.

Hot tip: Have you developed and implemented strategies to help the company save or make more money? That’s definitely something worth mentioning.

Know your worth

Do your research and check out how your pay stacks up against others in the same role and industry. Glassdoor and Salary.com are two online resources to help you understand your worth. They will take your geographic location, years of experience, education level into account and give you a ballpark figure of where your salary should be. Don’t take their figures as law, though. There are lots of factors that play into salary, but it’s a starting point to help you negotiate your pay raise.

Consider your company’s context

Take your company’s context into consideration. For example, if they’ve just laid off a bunch of people, or have hiring or salary freezes, then now might not be the best time to ask for a raise. These circumstances don’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t value your work, but it may mean that you need to get creative.

If a salary raise is unattainable, talk about bonuses for completed projects, extra vacation days, flex time, etc. And then ask to revisit the salary increase in a few months. Coming up with alternatives is usually viewed as a positive thing.

Stay positive

Don’t get discouraged if you’re denied a raise. Understand that managers can only do so much. They usually have restrictions on what they can do incentive-wise, and more often than not, they have to go to bat for their employees and really push for a raise. So the last thing you want to do is be a jerk. You want your manager to be your ally, not your foe.

Also, take time to weigh the positives of your workplace. Do you have good benefits? Is there growth opportunity? Are they flexible, family-friendly, etc.?

Things not to do

Don’t let emotions overwhelm you

Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking. Take a deep breath and know that your manager is just as uncomfortable as you are. Stay professional and stay calm. Remember to build your case based on the value you bring to the company. State facts and leave emotions at the door. As I like to say, facts, not feelings.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Do not…I repeat…DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. I cannot stress this enough. Do not, under any circumstance, say something like, “I know John got a 5% increase, and I work more than he does, so I deserve a 10% raise.” Some companies will legit fire you for this. Besides, this whole conversation is about you, not your coworker.

Don’t be cocky

There’s confidence, and there’s being cocky. Watch your tone and attitude. It’s never a good idea to come across as pretentious. This goes back to not letting your emotions, in this case, arrogance, get the best of you. Being cocky will get you nowhere fast. Being confident, on the other hand, will open doors.

Don’t give an ultimatum

If you walk into your manager’s office to ask for a raise, don’t threaten to leave if you don’t get the raise. Chances are you’ll have to make good on that threat. Managers are more interested in working with employees willing to negotiate and compromise than those with a take-it-or-leave-it stance.

If you follow these tips to negotiate a pay raise, your chances of getting a bump in pay should improve. If your raise is denied, you feel undervalued, your workplace is toxic, and you think you should quit, think it through and don’t quite without a plan.

Have you asked for a raise before? How did you go about it?

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