The ABCs of Asking for a Salary Raise

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You can’t always wait for your employer to offer you a raise. Sometimes, you have to take the step of negotiating for a higher salary yourself. But when should you begin the negotiation process, and what can you bring to the table to help make a case for your salary increase? Knowing how to negotiate a higher salary can make the difference between making do on last year’s pay rate and moving up to the compensation you deserve.

When Should You Ask For a Raise?

Walking in to your boss’s office and saying “I need a raise!” is never a good idea. Start your negotiation process off on the right foot by knowing when to make your request.

Here are some times when it makes sense to negotiate for a higher salary:

  • When you are being offered a job
  • When you are being offered a promotion
  • When your job has taken on significant new responsibilities
  • After you have achieved something above and beyond expectations, such as landing a new major client
  • During your annual performance review

There are a few times when it’s less appropriate to ask for more money, including:

  • When your company is enduring cutbacks and layoffs
  • After the yearly budget is finalized

That last one is especially important. If you know when your company makes and finalizes its annual budget, try to get your salary negotiation in while there’s still wiggle room in the numbers. Otherwise, you might find that the cash you hoped would be spent on your salary increase has already been designated for something else.

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How Do You Negotiate?

Here are a few negotiation tips to keep in mind:

  • Research Salary Information: Don’t walk in to a salary negotiation discussion without a number in mind, and don’t walk in without having done research into why that number makes sense. Use sites like Glassdoor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to learn whether you are being paid above or below the average for your job and career level. If you are underpaid, it’s a great starting point from which to discuss a pay raise.
  • Ask for More: This is a basic negotiation tip, but it’s one a lot of people miss. Always ask for more than you want so there is room to negotiate down.
  • Quantify Your Contributions: Be ready to prove why you deserve a salary increase. Bring information illustrating how many projects you manage, how many clients you’ve recruited, and how much money you’ve made for the company in the past year. If you have taken on additional responsibilities, quantify them as well. Make sure your supervisor or HR director knows exactly how valuable you are to the company.
  • Prepare a Script: Your negotiation will be more successful if you plan your strategy in advance. The Muse has a great salary negotiation script to follow, which includes building rapport, framing the ask as a statement instead of a question, itemizing your contributions, showing your research, and getting some kind of decision before the meeting ends. The decision could be “Yes, we’ll increase your salary,” or it could be “Let’s revisit this in six months.” This brings us to our next point.
  • Always Get the Next Step: Often, your initial salary negotiation meeting will end with a sentence like “Well, I have to talk to the Finance Department,” or “I’ll see what I can do.” Ask your boss when you can expect to hear back on the salary decision. Set a meeting right then to continue the discussion. If it turns out that you can’t get a salary increase for whatever reason, ask to set a meeting six months from now to revisit the question. Never leave the meeting without knowing what the next step in your salary negotiation process is.

Remember: you deserve to be paid fairly. If you are underpaid or are not receiving regular salary increases as your job responsibilities increase, it’s time to start the negotiation discussion. If your company won’t budge, it might be time to start looking for another job.

Written by Nicole Dieker. The views expressed herein are not intended to serve as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendations or an offer to buy or sell securities by FutureAdvisor.  Differences in account size, timing of transactions and market conditions prevailing at the time of investment may lead to different results, and clients may lose money. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

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