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Negotiating a Raise

Whether you think you’ve proven your value to the company or you just need more money, negotiating a raise can be difficult and awkward. Preparing yourself before you walk into your boss' office will put you on the best footing to increase your earnings.

Getting a Raise

Negotiating a raise is a different process for everyone. There are, however, some general guidelines that apply no matter where you work and who you work for.

  1. Take stock of your achievements. When asking for a raise you are making the case that you are worth more to the company than you are currently being paid. To do this you will have to toot your own horn a bit. Make a list of your achievements. Be as specific as possible. If you can, have facts and figures at your disposal, such as how much money you made the company or how much money a process that you suggested saved the company. Between five and seven major accomplishments will make a compelling case that you are worth more.
  2. Research average salaries in the industry. Your salary doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You are paid some variation on what the average person in your same position is paid. Variables include how much education and experience you have, as well as how much the cost of living is where you live. Talk to people in your industry, and research online. Find out what similar employees in comparable positions with the same level of experience make. You don’t have to ask for the precise average, however, knowing what others earn will let you know what the ball park figure is.
  3. Be willing to accept alternate compensation. There’s a lot more to compensation than just wages. Things you should be willing to accept in lieu of a raise, particularly in difficult economic times, include stock options, more flexible work hours, tuition reimbursement, more vacation time, telecommuting, a better-sounding title or a week at a professional conference in an exotic and attractive location, such as Hawai’i. If you prefer better perks to more money, don’t be afraid to lead with these as your requests.
  4. Be professional. Negotiating a raise isn’t something that is done informally. Schedule a meeting with the boss and view the process as one of negotiation. Have your list of accomplishments printed out for both you and the boss and list your compensation request at the top.

Other Tips

There are other things to keep in mind when you are trying to negotiate a raise.

  • Don’t compare yourself to the people you work with. Compare yourself to the field in general.
  • Be humble. Don’t threaten to quit unless you are actually prepared to walk.
  • If your boss is hesitant to give a raise, ask for additional job duties as part of your increased compensation.
  • Try and think like your boss. This will help you prepare yourself by the meeting. Anticipate his objections to your request and have answers for them.
  • Pick the right timing. The best time to ask for a raise is after you have just outdone yourself with your performance on the job. Similarly, don’t ask for a raise until you have been with your firm for at least a year.
  • Be assertive without being too aggressive. This can be a hard balance to strike, but it’s where you want your tone and attitude to be.
  • Be specific about what you want. Don’t ask for “a raise.” Ask for a raise in a particular dollar or percentage amount.
  • Role play the encounter with your boss. Get a partner to play the part of your boss while you make your pitch. This will help make you more relaxed and practiced when you go into the office.

The Moment of Truth

When you set foot into your boss’ office, the time has come for you to make your pitch. While you want the raise, remember that you certainly aren’t going to get a pay cut when you walk out of the office. In the worse case scenario you will be dusting off your resume and looking for a more financially satisfying position.

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