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Negotiating Salary: Guide and Top Tips

Salary negotiations are perhaps the single most difficult discussion between an individual and their employer.  Let’s face it, it’s a tad bit awkward, you may be unsure of yourself, and what if it the conversation doesn’t go smoothly?  Well, we’re going to show you the easy way to negotiate your salary.

We’re here to let you know that almost everyone has these fears.  We’re all just as nervous and no-one really likes discussing and negotiating their salary.  But we do so because the potential payoff is definitely worth it.

But negotiating your salary doesn’t need to be difficult.  You just need to be prepared.  The most effective way to negotiate salary is to come in prepared and ready for the conversation.  You should have all available and necessary information at your disposal and should embrace this difficult conversation head-on.

Do I Deserve a Salary Raise?

You come in early and you leave late.  You pick up extra shifts, handle tasks for colleagues out sick, plan office parties and events, and generally go above-and-beyond your core roles and responsibilities. You’re happy at your job, with you career, and with the company and the steps they’re taking.  But you can’t knock that feeling in the back of your mind that you’re getting paid too little and that you deserve a salary increase.

But getting the courage to ask for that raise can be difficult.  Negotiating a salary increase can be nerve-wracking and you may begin to question your own contributions to the team.

Do you really deserve that raise?

In fact, almost unequivocally, it’s a resounding YES.

Yes, you do deserve that raise.  The issue here isn’t surrounding what you deserve, it is surrounding if other’s (and more specifically your manager) understands that you deserve one. Be honest with yourself, if you feel like you deserve a raise and can defend your reasoning, then the below list will help you to negotiate a salary increase.

Understand Your Value

While you may think that you’re priceless (so do we), every employee is tracked against a wide variety of different metrics which determine their salary range. With the proliferation of the internet, finding that information has never been easier.  Some of this information is more personal and achievement based, while others are based on location and external factors.

Once you’ve pieced these parts together, you can research compensation details for similarly modeled employees.

The factors that affect salary compensation the greatest are:

  • Geographic location where you are based out of
  • Years of specific industry experience
  • Your education level
  • Your career level or band
  • Years of management experience
  • Skills (typically non-transferable)
  • Licenses and certifications you’ve acquired

By piecing these parts together, you should get a good sense of your career band and track and what similar employees are being compensated.  By checking online, you should be able to find the range you should be in.

This research will give you a baseline of what other similarly skilled individuals are being compensated at.  You may find that your compensation is above or below that range and will need to assess your next steps carefully.

Prepare Your Pitch

Under the assumption that your salary compensation is below the average range, you will want to list out talking points to frame the conversation in your favor.  By framing the conversation, you can show your employer why you deserve better compensation.

However, this conversation cannot be an emotional one.  It is one that must be based on quantifiable facts and reasoning.  You must show your value to your employer for them to consider the salary increase.

With that, come into the conversation with a list of accomplishments and achievements you’ve made over the past 12 months.  These should be accomplishments that are as closely related to revenue and cost-savings as possible.

If you can prove that you are saving more than you are being employed, your employer may find it more justifiable to provide you with a salary increase.

In-addition, you should come in with points regarding your years of experience, years with the company, and relevant skills you’ve attained which are paramount to the company’s success.

Go in Confidently

When discussing a salary increase, you need to be confident and self-assured with your request.  You should practice your pitch and ensure that you are prepared to make it to your employer.

Your pitch should be clear and there should be no confusion as to what you are looking for. When you do finish your request, you should request a salary increase higher than the average salary range.

Why?

Because in a successful negotiation, both sides should feel like they gave a little and won a little.  If you give your target number, your employer may negotiate that down with you and you may not be totally satisfied.

Be Tough, Yet Understanding

You don’t want to burn any bridges or leave a bad taste in your employers’ mouth.  You should be tough and assertive with what you want but must also be understanding with how your employer answers.

If layoffs are imminent, then perhaps ease off on the discussion.  If you see that your employer is trying to get a salary increase for you but isn’t able to meet your request, be thankful.

How you act during these difficult discussions will be remembered.  If you are graceful, courteous, and understanding, your employer will be more likely willing to assist you again in the future.

In addition, if they see that you remained calm and collected, they may be willing to work with you to ensure that you remain with the company.

Be Your Own Advocate

Time and time again we like to reiterate that you need to be your own advocate.  You need to not only believe that you deserve that raise, but have your manager believe it as well. While you may focus on your own salary pretty often, your manager is typically busy and may not know or fully understand any gripes and/or grievances you may have.

While your manager may believe that your salary is adequate, it is up to you to let them know why it isn’t and what your thoughts are. You cannot, nor should you, bottle up your frustrations when it comes to your salary.  Your best path is to be open and honest with your manager if you feel you are not being compensated fairly.

More so, advocating for yourself does not only entail venting out your frustrations to your manager. Advocating for yourself can be done by taking on new responsibilities, volunteering to assist around the office, and ensuring your work is completed to perfection.

Actions speak louder than words, by taking meaningful actions at work to prove yourself and to standout from your colleagues, you’ll have your manager take notice and push for the raise you deserve.

List Your Accomplishments and Present Them

While advocating for yourself is a great first step, you need to be able to back up your request with substantiated accomplishments and achievements. This may be as simple as daily roles and responsibilities that you accomplish, but you should look to denote and demonstrate their vitalness to the team and the organization as a whole.

A personal anecdote of my own, I used to keep a running journal on my work computer.  I would begin each day with the time that I arrived into the office and any and every task that I accomplished that day.

My tasks ranged from the mundane to the heroic, but I would always write everything down.

A week later, I would follow-up on each item for two reasons:

The first reason, I would want to make sure that the task was properly and fully completed.  This meant not only ensuring that my task was completed, but that the overall project or need was either completed or moving forward.

The second reason?

I would take these accomplishments and present them to my manager.  I would let him know what tasks I had completed, where certain projects stood, and where I was going the extra mile on.

Soon, my manager saw that I was taking the extra initiative and effort and began placing me on high visible projects.  This allowed me to be an influence on a project and help it succeed.

A promotion only came naturally after that.

Research Your Colleagues and Competition

When negotiating a salary increase, you need to provide due justification. In corporate speak, that means that you need to provide your manager with a defining reason on why you deserve that raise.

If you have consistent quality of work, your best justification is to look at what others are making in similar fields within your industry. You may be surprised, and this research should help you to negotiate a potential raise.  But it will definitely give you a good idea of where your salary should be.

My one caveat here, if you are not in a high cost of living city (i.e. New York City, San Francisco), then it may be prudent to remove those salaries from your search as the salaries there reflect the higher cost of living.

Time Appropriately

If your company just went through a difficult round of layoffs, it may be best to shelve the negotiations for another few months. Similarly, if the company had a record year and you have a solid track record, it may be best to bring up the negotiations then.

You need to be able to read and understand the current circumstances of the company.  If you see things are going well, then it would be a good time to sit with your manager to discuss your salary.

Have A Win

If you’re looking to negotiate your salary with your manager, it is best to do so after a big professional win. This could be winning a major client, recognizing revenue that was deemed lost, or implementing a new system, process, or software that has been sorely needed.

Whatever it is, if you just had a big professional win, your manager will be more favorable to the idea of negotiating your salary.

Make It Easy On Your Manager

Many times, your manager does not have the final say, discretion, or approval to provide salary increases not within a certain season. Many companies provide their managers with a limited window to start career evaluations and reward their best performers.

If you are negotiating a salary increase not within this window, you will need to make it as easy as possible on your manager to fight on your behalf for that raise. You can do so by ensuring that your work is 100% buttoned up.  You should have everything completed correctly, all issues resolved, and be assisting your team with any additional needs.

Going above-and-beyond, you should be taking initiative every day and implementing process solutions which bring relief to all employees. Creating one-sheeters and training colleagues are additional things you can do to show your commitment.

Once your manager sees and recognizes that your contributions have really helped the team and company, it will be much easier for them to speak and fight on your behalf for that raise.

Conclusion

Learning how to negotiate a salary increase can be monumental for your career growth.  By ensuring that you understand how to negotiate and ensure that you are being compensated your full worth, you will continue to be a great employee and produce work that impresses your manager and the department.

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