Salary Negotiation 101


Negotiating a raise is just about as pleasant as getting a root canal. Nobody likes to do it. Not you, not your boss, and definitely not you. However, salary negotiation is a necessary part of doing business. At some point in your career, you have to negotiate your salary in order to earn more. If you've never negotiated your salary before, then salary negotiation can seem endlessly nerve-racking. Since salary negotiation involves money, it requires strategic planning and execution with finesse.

Salary Negotiation 101:

Time Your Request

Timing is everything. It determines if and when you can get a raise. Find out when your company typically gives raises. Is it at the end of the year? Is it on the anniversary of your start date? Or is it sheerly by whim? If there's no hard-and-fast rule that you're aware of, then consult your employee handbook, and ask your coworkers. If you're still unable to pinpoint a general timeline for raises, then feel free to ask your manager directly. It's as simple as saying "If I ever wanted to discuss my salary, when and how would that happen?" After you've determined a timeline, you can begin to formulate your plan.

Plan Your Strategy

Salary negotiation isn't all about money. At its core, it's about receiving recognition. The recognition is two-fold: (1) formal recognition from your superior about the quality of your work, and (2) fair compensation for the level of work that you perform. You cannot negotiate a salary just because you'd like to receive a raise. You have to prove that you rightfully deserve--and have earned--a raise.

Make a strong case by evaluating your past achievements, current workload, and new responsibilities. Consider any noteworthy achievements. Did you increase sales revenues by 32%? Did you boost social media followers by 200%? Have you taken over three new major projects within one year all the while handling your current workload? These are things worth highlighting in your negotiation.

After you've established your track record, you need to decide on your raise request. Consider the overall amount of raises that your company typically grants. If your company grants annual raises, then there's an approximate budget set in place, and your raise should stay within that line. If the typical annual raise is 5%, then asking for 10% is excessive, but asking for 6% might be reasonable.

You should also consider the current salary range for your industry and position. In high-demand industries, such as tech, companies are more willing to provide raises in order to retain talent. In other industries, it may be harder to negotiate a raise because your position doesn't command as much leverage as other positions would. Research national salaries as well as regional salaries for your position, and then, compare those salaries with your own. Is your salary within that range? Your raise request needs to be reasonable yet market-competitive.

Negotiating Your Raise

Your negotiation tactic will depend largely on your manager's personality. If your manager doesn't beat around the bush, then it's best to make an appointment with a clear objective. If your manager is more casual and prefers a nuanced approach, then you'll have to broach the topic within the right contexts.

During the negotiation, be straightforward about what you want, and then, thoughtfully explain why you deserve it. Your salary negotiation is essentially a request for formal recognition for your work. Therefore, you need to explain why you are more valuable than before because your skills have improved, you have accomplished more, and you have the potential to achieve more. It's not enough to simply highlight noteworthy achievements. You have to show that you're worth the increased financial investment, and it's in your company's best interest to offer you a higher compensation. Think about it: why should your company pay you more when they can pay someone else to do your job for the same rate?

End the Negotiation on a Strong Note

At the end of the negotiation, your manager will either grant your raise request, make a lower offer, or reject your raise request altogether. Regardless of the outcome, it's important to remain calm and collected. You should remain professional regardless of whether or not you received your desired raise.

Now, if you did receive your desired raise, then kudos! Resist the urge to celebrate until you're back in the privacy of your own office.

If you received a lower offer or no offer at all, then feel free to ask for an explanation. You can simply ask, "Can you explain why you made this offer?" or "Can you explain why you're declining my raise request?" It could be that the budget for raises is very limited, or there's a raise freeze going on. Or maybe your manager isn't convinced that your current level of work warrants a pay raise. End the negotiation by asking, "When would be an appropriate time for us to revisit the discussion of my salary?" This will help set the groundwork for your next salary negotiation. Or this just might be the wake-up call you need in order to move on with your career.

Have you successfully negotiated a raise? Share your tips and tricks below.