How to Ask for a Raise or Negotiate Your Salary

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Several factors dictate how much you can earn in any position. Job title is one of the most obvious indicators of your salary, but industry, job location and current market conditions can have an impact on salary. Of course, your experience, education and other qualifications will make a difference as well.

The following sections describe why and how to ask for a raise in your current position or negotiate your salary for a new job.

Benefits of Asking for a Raise or Negotiating Your Salary

Earning a better salary is clearly the primary benefit of asking for a raise or negotiating your salary. However, there are some additional benefits to either step.

If you generally like your job but salary is a main concern, receiving a raise could impact your happiness and productivity. A majority of the U.S. workforce (51 percent) is not engaged, according to Gallup. Increasing your earnings can rejuvenate you personally and professionally.

Negotiating your salary for a new job can be even more important when you think about how “it’s nearly always easier to get more money at the offer stage than it is once you’re already working there,” managerial expert Alison Green says at U.S. News & World Report. “Your future paychecks will thank you.”

Consequently, if you keep in mind that the average pay raise is around 3 percent, then you can see the difference in your paychecks years down the line if you negotiate your salary for a new position. For instance, if you work for an organization that gives employees a raise every year, a $45,000 salary after three years with a 3 percent expected salary increase each year becomes $49,173. A $50,000 salary after three years becomes $54,636.

You may not be able to secure a 10 percent pay raise, but negotiating a 10 percent salary increase on a new job offer may be possible. Figure in possible annual raises on the higher figure and you can start to see how much of a difference negotiating your salary can make.

How to Negotiate a Better Salary

It’s natural to feel anxious about negotiating an offer, but “if you handle the negotiation reasonably and professionally, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll lose the offer over it,” Green says. This is a normal part of business, and in the small chance that it doesn’t go well, you’ve received indication that the company is unreasonable and dysfunctional in other ways.

The caveat, however, is tone. “The tone you use in negotiating matters because it can convey ‘I’m a professional who will be pleasant to work with, even when we’re talking about difficult things,’ or it can convey that you’re inappropriately aggressive, ego-driven or even rude,” she adds. “You can still be forthright in explaining that you think your work is worth a higher salary, but you want to ensure that your tone sounds pleasant and collaborative, not adversarial.”

Green offers additional tips for negotiating a higher salary in another article at U.S. News & World Report.

  • Be prepared. You’ll probably be asked for a desired salary range. Research ahead of time so you don’t lowball or otherwise harm yourself in negotiations later.
  • Focus on what you want to earn. Consider declining to discuss your previous salary altogether. Or, if you can’t do that, try to explain why you accepted a lower salary in your previous position. Maintain focus on what you want to earn and why you’re worth that.
  • Be honest. Don’t lie about your past salary; this can backfire when the employer verifies your salary history. Don’t give a salary range that will leave you disappointed if you’re offered the lowest end of it; choose your range carefully. And make sure you don’t play games. “While job search experts used to advise absolutely refusing to name a salary figure first, even if pressed, that advice often doesn’t work today and can hurt your chances,” she says. “If an employer is asking you directly what salary range you’re looking for and you categorically refuse to answer, the employer is likely to just move on [to] the next candidate, someone who might be willing to have a more open conversation.”
  • Consider factors other than salary. You should have a bottom-line figure that you won’t go below, but beware of other factors. Figure in a generous retirement or healthcare contribution. This works for the other side of negotiations, too. Beware of accepting a significant bump in salary for a job where you’ll be miserable.

How to Ask for a Raise

Remember the following principles when preparing to ask for a raise.

  • Prepare your case. You should collect two types of evidence before making your case, Diana Faison, a partner with leadership development firm Flynn Heath Holt Leadership, told Harvard Business Review. Most important are facts about your unique contributions, such as money-saving efficiencies you’ve implemented, positive results from projects you’ve overseen, positive customer testimonials and praise from higher-ups. Also gather information about company- and industry-wide salaries to help demonstrate your worth.
  • Consider your boss’s priorities and explain how you’ll help. Taking on more responsibilities is one of the best ways to make your case. “First, command the tasks and responsibilities in your current role, and then start solving the problems that your soon-to-be self would be working on,” Jenna Tanenbaum, founder of smoothie delivery service GreenBlender, told Forbes. “Understand the core strategy of your organization, ask lots of hard questions and align your priorities with that of the company.”
  • Practice the conversation ahead of time. Rehearse what you’ll say. You can even record it and make sure that you’re being concise, logical and speaking with the right tone.
  • Don’t make it personal. This is a business decision, so don’t bring in personal reasons for a raise such as debt or a new expense. “The best approach to asking for a raise is to focus on deserving one versus needing one,” Beth Monaghan, CEO and co-founder of public relations firm InkHouse, told Forbes. “Too often, people argue that a raise is important because of very real costs in their lives, however, an employer is looking to give raises to people based on performance.”

Building Your Career

One way to command a higher salary in your current position or a new role is to advance your education. Southeastern University’s online business degrees can help you become a successful business leader. When you graduate, you can start or advance your career in sales and marketing, financial planning, small business startup, organizational leadership and many more areas. All of these degrees take place in a fully online learning environment.

Photo via Southeastern University Online Learning

This article, "How to Ask for a Raise or Negotiate Your Salary" was first published on Small Business Trends

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