How to Successfully Negotiate a Raise

How to negotiate a raise

There has been a myriad of studies in recent times that confirm what we have suspected all along: workers feel underpaid. Of course, they can garner sympathy because the work-life balance is gradually dwindling. Getting a significant pay raise is about as common as a New York City resident driving a pickup truck and, after 20 years on the job, all they get is a lousy company T-shirt and ballcap – not even a gold watch anymore!

There is nothing more intimidating than walking into your employer’s office, sitting down and initiating a salary negotiation. The manager may acquiesce to your demands, or the executive could come up with a lame excuse and inform you that if you don’t like it, then you get to leave at any time. Whatever the case, knowing how to negotiate a raise is a natural part of your career advancement.

But the worst attitude to have is a defeatist one. You need to emit confidence, you need to show that you own this position and you need to prove that you’re worth every penny or pence to the firm. And if you employ these seven tactics, then you can successfully receive a higher wage or salary.

Watch the steps in action:

1. Make a List of Accomplishments

Surely, in your four years at the business, you have likely achieved quite a bit – both for yourself and the company. This could entail everything from increasing sales by 8% in the second quarter to meeting every deadline that has been put in front of you to never missing a day of work.

Indeed, we tend to lose track of our daily, weekly and monthly accomplishments, but it is important to remember what you have done, which is critical when you present your case for receiving higher pay.

Here are a few tips to composing a list of accomplishments:

  • brainstorm everything you have done since your first day on the job
  • ask your colleagues if they know anything that stands out
  • concentrate on the results you have delivered
  • quote clients who have praised your work.

Who knows? The company may do one better and give you a raise and a promotion!

As you comb through these feats, it is important to keep in mind 19th Century philosopher Thomas Carlyle’s sage words: ‘Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment’.

2. Compare Industry Salaries

Is somebody who just entered the labour market making 23% more than you are for the same work? That’s quite common, particularly for professionals who have been employed at the same job for the last seven years.

This pertinent information could be used for your benefit.

Salary or wage comparison is a great tool to have at your disposal. There are plenty of resources to utilise, and once you discover the numbers, you should print out the data to show HR or your boss.

By informing your boss that someone else in your same position at a different company is earning 17% more than you do, you convey a simple message: someone with your talent, experience and overall human capital could sell their services to another firm at a higher price.

3. Prepare Your Case First

Before you waltz into your manager’s office, you feel like a million bucks: strong posture, shoulders back and the confidence of Rick Blaine from Casablanca. Unfortunately, the moment you saunter inside, you feel like the lowest forms of earth, such as politicians and used car salespeople. Sure, nerves play a factor, but do you know what’s also to blame? A lack of preparation.

In the days leading up to your meeting (see below), it is imperative to prepare like it’s a court case, equipped with facts, data and even testimony from coworkers and clients alike.

4. Book an Appointment

Timing is everything.

The worst way to negotiate a pay boost is randomly approaching a higher-up. The person in charge of approving or rejecting such a matter will be taken aback, find it disrespectful and might even deny your request just because it was uncouth to ask for a wage hike out of nowhere.

Instead, the best course of action is to schedule a meeting so that both sides are available, prepared and ready to have a fruitful discussion.


5. Negotiate Other Types of Pay

Sometimes, a company is unwilling to increase direct remuneration because of tight budgets, tough economies and management wanting to keep wages low. However, these same enterprises may be willing to consider ramping up other forms of payment, such as better benefits, more perks, additional vacation time, stock options or flexible work hours. This is a compromise that you should certainly consider if the business doesn’t want to give you a cost of living adjustment.

Remember: anything is better than nothing. Sure, you won’t be seeing an extra $250 in your paycheque each week, but you could see those 10 shares spike, or you could home your skills during those night school courses.

6. Identify Corporate Context

One aspect of preparation and research is to identify the corporate context. In other words, it would be a prudent step on your part to be aware of industry trends, a recent cost-cutting initiative or the series of layoffs that just transpired a couple of months ago.

This achieves two things: it shows you’re serious about a raise and it conveys the message that you are ready to work with the firm on a genuine compromise that benefits both parties.

7. Avoid Certain Phrases

A lot of workers will precede their requests with certain phrases that will send shivers up and down the spine of HR, employers, executives, managers and even the mail clerk in the basement.

So, what are these phrases? Here are just some of them that you need to avoid uttering:

  • ‘I’m doing the worst of four people…’
  • ‘The last time I received a raise was six years ago…’
  • ‘I just learned that Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff from Accounting is earning more than I do…’
  • ‘We’re having a baby…’
  • ‘It’s been a year since you hired me…’

It’s similar to when those people in the office – you know who we’re talking about (hint: Mindy the millennial from Marketing) – say certain buzzwords to sound sophisticated and intelligent, like paradigm, proactive, synergise and recontextualise. These words make you want to gouge out your eyeballs and feed them to the vultures.

No Raise for You!

So, by the end of it all, your salary negotiation failed, and the company ultimately rejected your request for a higher salary. What should you do now? Should you throw a temper tantrum, yell at the office and take a goldfish à la Jerry Maguire? Or should you stay the course?

Here are four suggestions if ‘no’ is the answer:

Requesting a salary increase is an intimidating affair as all sorts of emotions, concerns and over-the-top scenarios flood your mind and body. You worry that you’ll get a pink slip the next day, you sweat over the idea that you’ll get a wage hike but your workload will triple, and you even think about the possibility of being put through a table by your boss (you might be watching too much WWE).

But you should not be losing sleep at night over these trivialities. Remember: bosses expect their subordinates to eventually ask for a higher salary or hourly wage. They do not view it as a moral transgression or a sin. That said, knowing the right strategies to employ is paramount to having your objective to better pay achieved.

What tips would you share for negotiating a raise? Join the conversation in the comments section below and let us know!