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8 Steps to Negotiate Your Next Pay Raise

Everyone wants to get paid more. But here’s the truth: few people actually know how to negotiate a salary increase. In fact, only 43 percent of people ever ask for a raise, and just 44 percent of them get what they’re asking for.

This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. But you should be prepared to make your case. While it often feels like we’re begging for more money when inquiring about a salary increase, it’s really an opportunity discuss how much our experience, skills, and expertise actually benefit business.

Here are eight strategies that can help you negotiate your next raise:

  1. 1. Don’t ask. Yes, you read that right. The best way to start negotiations is to not ask — that is until the timing is right. Make sure you’re giving an employer what they want: a productive, enthusiastic, and responsive employee. Better yet, try to be cooperative too.

    When employers see your value, they’ll be more receptive to your requests. Wait until you crush a project or get a great performance review before asking for a pay bump. Otherwise, you reduce the chances of hearing, “Sure, we can do that.”

  2. 2. Research your role. Research will always be your friend. For one, it’ll help you come up with a much more realistic number than if you base it on what you think you’re worth. Besides, you want to come to negotiations from a data driven place.

    Check Glassdoor, Payscale, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Narrow down the data by state and city, and do a quick Google search of recent job posts to see what your position gets paid at other companies. There’s nothing wrong with passion, but you should support it with data.

  3. 3. Know your value. Don’t just tell your boss what people in similar positions make. You need to tie your contributions to a specific value for the company. If you can, calculate the monetary benefits, like cost savings or revenue as a result of your work. If not, then focus on special achievements, process improvements, or initiatives during your tenure.

Related: If “Find a New Job” Is One of Your Resolutions, Read This

  1. 4. Practice, practice, practice. If the thought of asking for a raise makes you nervous, do yourself a favor and try a practice run. Call up your internet provider, bank, or credit card company and take a stab at getting them to lower the rate. If they won’t budge, negotiate for something else, like additional services or a free upgrade. Talk about a low-stakes situation to really exercise those negotiation muscles.
  1. 5. Schedule a meeting. I hope this goes without saying, but don’t ask your boss for a raise on the fly. Instead, request a meeting. And when the time comes, make sure to show up on time with all your talking points prepared.
  1. 6. Give ‘em a reason or two. Mention all the research you did in support of your request. An explanation for the pay increase can go a long, long way to getting you close to what you want, especially if  you want more than market price. Explain exactly why you're worth the money, and get down to the specifics to appear as objective as possible.

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  1. 7. Don’t make demands — or ultimatums and comparisons. You do yourself no favors by making demands, ultimatums, or comparisons. Nor is it helpful to reason that you need the money to survive. Employers don’t dole out raises just to help you afford the cost of your lifestyle or because you found out a coworker makes more than you. And if you march in the office and say you’ll quit if you don’t get a pay bump, your boss may just call your bluff.
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  3. 8. Get ready to wait. If you think you’ll get an answer on the spot, think again. Rarely will employers agree to a salary increase without conducting a little research of their own. They’ll also need to make sure there’s room in the budget to even offer you a raise. Just make sure to leave the meeting with an understanding of when you’ll hear back with a decision.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate on your own behalf. That said, you should still have the data and reasons to back up your request. And if the answer is no, rest assured that it doesn’t mean you’re not a valuable employee. It could very well be a case of money on their end. Just cool off for six to eight months, and then ask again.

If you’d like to learn more about negotiating a salary increase, or would like to explore your options for other employment, please let us know. Our Staffmark team is excited to discuss what we can do to help you reach your career goals!