1) Do your research first. Research is the Achilles’ heel of asking for a raise: it should hands down be the first step because it’s important to make sure that you can confidently go in having some solid info and insights to back up what you’re asking for. www.payscale.com is a great site that I use, you can see what the average a person in your role makes and you can use that to negotiate the higher end of the range for yourself. If they are happy with your work and you are confident that you’ve been providing a good contribution in your role so far, you should be placing yourself at the higher end of the salary range for your role. Other companies would also be lucky to have you. If the range is what you’re already at, you can consider a few other things, like that a Senior person in the same role would be making more, or the time you’ve been there, or your specific contributions (which I’ll get into later in this article). This is a good starting point to make sure that you are prepared for anything they come back with so you need to do this research first.
2) Be prepared for the conversation to feel uncomfortable. Like it or not, this type of discussion doesn’t always feel good when it’s happening. It’s kind of like a really hard workout; if you put in the work it can feel really good after. It’s one of those conversations that is necessary but not always fun, especially if you truly look at the big picture of your financial future and what a difference it could really mean for you years down the road. Sadly, most people are underpaid because they’re afraid of having this conversation. Just think though; it’s only painful for a very small amount of time, it most likely won’t even last an hour. If, in that short amount of time, you are able to negotiate an extra $5000/year, then you’ve just made $5000 extra dollars in under an hour. Not bad, right? If you avoid it, you could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table throughout your life.
3) Set the tone of the conversation. You want the person you’re negotiating with to know that you’re serious, but at the same time you want to keep it friendly. I’m assuming you like and respect this person, and you probably have a good working relationship with him or her. Make them smile or laugh at the beginning of the convo if you can. Thank them for something they’ve done for you recently, or tell them a funny story. Doing things like this will set the tone of the conversation to friendly. One thing you want to be really careful of is not to piss them off, or say anything that would cause them to go on the defensive, because if that happens then you’ve already lost, and you’ll be walking away with your tail between your legs. You need to use finesse. Keep in mind that anything they say can be countered with a solid case if you’ve researched and prepared.
(Click here to download my free script for a salary negotiation) – this will be added as a clickable button when it’s actually added onto the website.
4) Get them agreeing to something (or many things) you’ve said early on.
Whether it’s a nod or otherwise an approval on one or some of your points. For example, you might start talking about how when you started, your role was x and now it’s evolved to y, you might outline some of your specific additional responsibilities and then end your sentence with, “Would you agree with that?” or “Does that make sense?” Your aim is to get a nod or a ‘yes’ from them. You need to use your points to compel them emotionally and have them see where you’re coming from and really have them feel how you feel. Remember that they’re human too, and even though they have a job to do, they may have been in the same situation in the past. If they are in a high up position, chances are they’ve had their share of tough conversations. Getting preliminary agreement from them is steering the conversation towards also being in agreement with you when you ask to be compensated fairly and you get into the numbers discussion.
5) Go into the meeting overly prepared (with documents).
When you go in prepared, and it’s obvious, it’s more difficult for someone to brush you off, delay your request or otherwise defer you. It can still happen, but it’s part of kicking butt in a tough conversation. The most prepared person wins and this is where you’ll have an advantage. Preparing isn’t just about documents, but documents with specific data points, research and examples of your contributions are going to be a great asset for you to fall back on. Don’t hand them a stack of paper first thing, you’ll lose their attention. You can bring attention to your specific documents if and when it’s appropriate in the discussion. If you just went into the meeting with not much preparation and you casually said, “I’d like to talk about maybe getting a salary adjustment,” they could easily say, “I’d be happy to talk about that with you in the upcoming review cycle but right now the budget is just too tight for me to do anything.” (They might say that anyway.) You need to be prepared for that and all the other things they might counter with. Check out my post on the 5 objections to prepare for when asking for a raise. (this will come in the future)
6) Very subtly make them feel a hint of “fear”
First, you want to make it known that you’re excited about staying with the company for a long time and that you’re enthused about what you will be able to accomplish and the value you’ll be able to provide moving forward. You don’t have to threaten (in fact, you don’t want to do that at all) and you don’t want to be cocky or arrogant. Just be reasonable and take a ‘matter of fact’ approach. For example: simply mentioning “other companies” as it relates to your research, or stating that ‘the market for my role is very hot right now’ and you want to make sure that you’re being compensated fairly, are things that are subtly hinting at the fact that there might be a chance that with your skills and experience you could be making additional dollars elsewhere for the exact same role. Not that you want to but it could happen.
Bonus Trick #7
Ask for what you want (and at some point you will need to get specific).
Once you get into the specifics you can say things like, “I’m sitting at $50K right now and I’d like to be making $65K.” You want to anchor it high.When you anchor high, you’re more likely to get more. If you say you’re at $50K and you want to get $55K, then coming back with $53K would seem reasonable and that’s what they’ll do. If you ask for $65K, coming back with $53K is a bit of a stretch. So anchor high, base it on a range, and back it up with research that shows what you’re asking for is fair.
There you have it.This is a hard topic for a lot of people, and stats show that women especially don’t negotiate, leaving a lot of money on the table throughout their lives. Don’t be one of the people who takes the easy road on this. It will be worth it, you’ll feel more empowered and only better setup for the next time you need to ask for what you know you should be getting.
If you know of someone who could benefit from a friendly push to ask for more in their current position, do them a favour and share this article with them.
In work and life,