"To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity." -Douglas Adams Read Time: 4 Mins
Asking for a pay raise is not an easy task. I know, just thinking about sitting down with your boss to tell them that you want more money for the job you’ve been doing gives you extreme anxiety. I’ve been there. Although negotiating a pay increase is one of the fastest ways to improve your financial situation. If you can strategically negotiate your raise, how much faster could you be on your way to financial freedom? We’re going to outline how you can get the pay raise you deserve in this post.
Negotiating a raise can feel like a scary prospect. You might have little or no experience in negotiations, and feel ill-equipped even to try, but you don’t have to be an expert to get good results. The secret sauce is: you have to prepare. A lot. And yes, it takes a little time, but nothing I am about to share with you is difficult or expensive to initiate, so seriously, what do you have to lose?
There are a few common misconceptions or myths if you like around negotiating for pay raises that I’d like to bust before we get any further.
Here are four misconceptions:
1. It’s a fight. One misconception is that the whole negotiation thing is a win/lose game or contest and that somehow you have to “best” your boss. This is an unfortunate and potentially dangerous approach to take that could result in you not even working there anymore. Negotiation is not YOU versus BOSS. When done well, it’s quite collaborative.
2. You have to be good at it. Nope. As I said before, you need to prepare AND to practice, but you don’t have training or certification or a long track record of successful negotiations to ask for a raise. With the right kind of attitude and preparation, anyone can negotiate a pay increase.
3. I don’t like conflict. Who says there has to be a conflict? If you get into a situation where you are arguing, then you might as well throw up the white flag because you won’t be getting your raise. In a good (dare I say, great?) negotiating session, you will be collaborating…not arguing….with your boss or manager. We’ll get to how in a bit.
4. The company can’t afford to pay me more. That could be true, but how do you know unless you test your theory? Replacing you would cost far more when you consider onboarding and the costs associated with bringing a new employee up to speed productivity-wise. If you make a good enough case, it might be well worth it to the company to retain you with an increase. Besides, there are more ways than salary to be compensated.
The first thing you want to do is to ask in advance for a meeting at a convenient time with your boss or manager and let him/her know what it is you want to discuss. This will give them time to prepare at their end, and won’t surprise or catch them off-guard. This will also give you time to get ready. The last thing you want to do is feel rushed before going into a negotiation scenario where you are talking about money.
You need to know, definitively…what kind of pay raise it is that you want. If you are looking for more money, then you need to do some research.
Look up things like: What the typical salaries in your industry are. Use websites like LinkedIn and GlassDoor that can help with that.
Figure out a range, and aim for somewhere in that range. Not the lowest, not the absolute highest…but somewhere in the higher middle and aim for that. If you have to fall back to the lower end, you can later in your meeting….and the key thing here is to BE in the right range.
Doing good, solid homework around salary will show the manager or boss that you know what you are talking about…and that you have prepared for this discussion (which shows initiative) so get clear about what it is you want before you ever go in to the meeting.
Not every raise involves money, believe it or not. I can think of 9 things you could negotiate for that do not involve a pay increase per see…here they are:
1. Extra training. Maybe there is something you have been wanting to learn that you would like the company to pay for…a course, a certification?
2. A phone allowance, especially if you do a lot of work on your cell.
3. An increase in vacation days. (Who doesn’t want that?)
4. Flex days. Days that you can come in late or start early and leave late, or work a Saturday in lieu of the day you want to go on your child’s field trip.
5. A free fitness membership. Healthy employees are more productive…you could make a case for that for sure, especially if your job is sedentary or stressful or both.
6. Stock options. Almost like money, only not.
7. Extra benefits…whatever they might be. massage therapy, more money for vision correction, coaching or therapy sessions…whatever you might want.
8. A shortened work week. Every second Friday off. Or being able to leave work at noon on Fridays…or maybe no Fridays at all.
9. Telecommuting or working abroad. Are you able to work from home one or two days a week instead of taking that long trek to the office every single day? Telecommuting saves the environment, time, stress and energy and makes for more productive employees. It’s true.
So those are nine things you might consider asking for (not all of them, haha, but any one of them) instead of more money.
Once you’ve decided exactly what it is you are asking for, and have done your research, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
Keep emotion out of it. You may very well get a “no” this time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t being considered and your “no” this time might be a “yes” next time. Keep calm
Don’t give an ultimatum. Just don’t go there. Thinking, “if I don’t get a raise, I’m out of here” line is not a good place to be generally. You might find yourself unemployed, fast. Besides, that’s the wrong approach. You want to sell them on the idea that THEY will get something out of this raise they are giving you.
The effort you put into looking nice for the meeting won’t go unnoticed. Spiff up a bit if you normally don’t and if you do, take a little extra care. Show your boss or manager that this is important.
The approach that will work best is to be collaborative. Use “we” and think about your organization or company and what you are trying to accomplish. To prepare for this, write out a list of all the reasons you can imagine that you are valuable to the company.
Once you have a list in front of you, begin to build your case for your pay increase.
You can point to some of your past accomplishments…especially ones that moved the company or a project you were working on forward…but don’t dwell too much time there because the past is past.
Focus on how your experience and history is a valuable asset to the company. Talk about future potential…what the pay raise (in whatever format you choose) will enable you to do and what THEY will get in exchange…in other words, what is the return on investment?
Maybe you are pushing for telecommuting. Maybe you will be saving a couple of hours of commuting and therefore will be able to spend more time earlier in the day in contact with people on the other side of the country that you would normally be reached later on because of how long it takes you to get to the office. That’s more efficient. Maybe you will get more done if you can get on that phone earlier. That’s one example.
Maybe a mobile phone allowance will enable you to be reached more easily outside of work time.… just be careful what you wish for.
Maybe a fitness pass will keep you less stressed and therefore healthier…and healthier people are more productive, more creative and need fewer sick days.
“I’m really happy here, and I also have a ton of ideas for going forward, and it’s been hectic and stressful around here. Being able to take a Friday afternoon off from time to time will allow me to have some downtime…and that will help me to rejuvenate a bit and be even more productive when I am here…because there is so much going to happen in this next quarter and I want to be ready for it.”
Again, build your case that you earning a pay raise is worth it for everyone…but keep emotions and ultimatums out of it.
Once you have your pitch…(which doesn’t need to be very long at all…short and sweet is better)…practice it. Practice it with your friends, relatives, anyone you trust who will give you real feedback on your case.
If you want to get super serious about it…you can even go interview for similar jobs in other companies JUST to practice! That will allow you to know what is out there, what you might be able to get if you ask for it, and you might also find out how much you already have.
It’s really good experience if you want to get that involved in your research and have the time and energy to do it.
Once you are practiced up, have researched everything, are dressed up a bit, and ready for your pre-arranged appointment with your boss or manager…take a moment to think about your body language.
As you would in an interview situation, make eye contact, shake his or her hand when you go into the room, and sit without crossing your arms. Don’t bring your coffee in with you…and leave the gum behind.
Think short and sweet, collaborative and conversational. Make your pitch…and then be quiet. Use silence as a tool.
I’ve talked about that in one of my podcast episodes,…that silence is an underrated communication tool.
It’s a void that most people are uncomfortable with and want to jump in to fill. Wait and see…while your boss or manager considers your pitch…and see what the response is.
Again, it may not be what you are hoping for…there are no guarantees. However, you might actually get that pay raise that you’ve been wanting and deserve.
In any case, the preparation will not be in vain. You may well have made an impression that will last.
There is a very good chance that your boss or manager will know how valuable an employee you are, and want to keep you. An experienced, productive, happy employee is far more valuable and less expensive than one who is brand new and needs a lot of hand-holding until established, and even more valuable and less expensive than an unproductive, unhappy employee who takes a lot of sick days and doesn’t get much done.
I expect that will the implementation of these strategies, you very well might get what you ask for.
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About The Author:
Communication “Diva” is the tongue-in-cheek, sassy title of podcaster and author (and church minister) Jennifer Swanson. Jenn doesn’t actually believe anyone can be a diva of communication but does passionately insist that we could all do with a little practice!
Through her podcast, online training courses, public speaking, workshops, individual coaching, ministry and recently published book, Jenn lives out her personal mission statement: to connect, encourage and empower others and to help people “know they can”. Aimed at high school and college graduates (and with a
gentle nudge toward personal awareness and growth), “What They See: How to Stand Out and Shine in Your New Job” takes readers beyond the interview and into the three-month probationary period of new employment. Find out more at
Also published on Medium.
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