The title of this blog may make you immediately uncomfortable, but we are going to try our best to calm your fears when it comes to talking about the m-word… money. Find a person who loves their job, then try and suggest that they do it for free. We all know why you are working 40 (or 50) hour weeks: you want to get paid. You bring value and worth to a company and they should compensate you for it. Simple, right? So why should we even have to negotiate a salary?
There are a million reasons why a company may not be paying you the right salary for your job. Maybe you don’t work there yet, or maybe you changed responsibilities and positions over the course of a project. It really doesn’t matter why you are asking, because a company is going to try and get the best value for it’s dollar, period. This means it is usually up to you to prepare a case to show how the compensation they give you and the quality of work you provide as a fair trade. You aren’t looking to scam anyone here, right?
When you boil it down to these types of terms, all apprehension about salary negotiation should disappear from your mind! Ok, we know that it isn’t that easy, and we also know that these types of talks with an employer can be nerve wracking. The best and easiest way to feel good about a salary negotiation is preparing yourself for the argument.
By asking yourself a few question and honestly reflecting on your last period of work, you should be able to come up with a really solid answer for the following question:
“Why are you asking for more money?”
If you find yourself thinking too hard about this question, you may need to be honest with yourself about how much your value has increased for the company. An increased salary is almost always coupled with an increase in responsibility and even possibly workload, so your current performance should be at its peak when you are ready to start talking about increasing your salary to match it. Always be honest with yourself, so you aren’t stuck in a situation where you need to be honest about your work in front of your bosses.
Did you answer that question with “I’ve worked really hard this last year / quarter / lifetime, and I think I should get paid fairly for it!”? Then please sally forth as this is the blog post for you! However, if your answer was more along the lines of “I’d like to figure out how to squeeze more juice from this orange before I toss it out the window,” then this probably isn’t the blog post for you.
Build Your Case and Know How Much Your Worth
New hire salary negotiation, yearly review, title change…it doesn’t matter — you need to clearly build your case that shows how someone of your value is compensated beyond your current salary. A great place to start is Glassdoor’s Salary Search. If you can’t find your exact job title, be sure to look for job descriptions that have responsibilities that crossover with your own. Use these along with other companies’ job ads to figure out a salary range that you’ll be asking for.
If part of your case is identifying and describing new duties that you have taken on during the last year, be sure to seek out the salaries of the job descriptions that match the work you’ve been doing. These can be a powerful persuader when it comes to discussing the added value you are bringing to the company.
Once you’ve armed yourself with enough data to feel informed, it’s time to breach the subject and start talking about salaries. Don’t stress: you aren’t trying to pull one over on anyone here. You’ve done your due diligence and built a case on why the company should pay a fair salary for someone of your value. It sounds simple when distilled down, but actions can be more difficult than words. Even if you come to the table with such straightforward terms you may still be negotiating at the end of the day.
The Art of Negotiating
The title says it all, but spoiler alert: you probably won’t learn everything you need to know about navigating tricky negotiations in a single blog post. However, if you come to the table with the right frame of mind and enough data to back you up, you’ll feel better and lead a more informed and successful salary negotiation. There are a few things to remember when talking about compensation that can help in the discussion process.
Don’t Forget About Benefits
Salary ranges you find online and your own salary are purely monetary compensation but don’t forget about benefits that can add to your bottom line each month. These can include health insurance, work-life balance perks such as a gym membership or health-related kickbacks, transportation stipends, extended education or even childcare. These perks can add significantly to your base salary, but may not be as much of an economic consideration for the company. Don’t forget to bring increased or new benefits to the table when talking about take-home pay.
On the other hand, don’t forget to mention benefits as part of your compensation package if you are discussing previous jobs or salaries. Leaving even small benefits on the table can end up costing you real money in the long run. Don’t be afraid to chase those parking passes!
It may sound silly, but part of pitching an increased salary should include a confident person who knows their stuff. That’s the preparation part, remember? Try practicing with a friend or coworker who can pitch you some hard questions. They may not come up, but nothing feels worse than being asked a question that you aren’t prepared for.
Some questions that you should be able to answer are:
“How did you come up with this salary range?”
Simple, right? You did a comparison of salaries for positions that mirror yours or have similar job descriptions. Maybe you looked at other positions in cities nearby, as salaries change depending on location. This is especially important if you are negotiating for a new job in a new city. A cost-of-living calculator is also a good tool to calculate what you should be asking for in your area.
“Why do you feel like you deserve a raise?”
The next part is dependent on your relationship and time with the company, but showing up with only hard data may make your argument for more money feel a little cold. Openly discussing your successes as well as candidly talking about missed opportunities is a good way to show your commitment to the company and also prove that you are looking at this as a long-term move.
“Why did you bring this up now?”
It’s always good to bring up a raise after a big win for your team or the company as a whole. It’s also smart test the water before jumping in. Make sure the company is in the best place to be able to respond to your salary request — a salary increase isn’t going to fly very far if the company just lost a big bid, for instance. Take the temperature of the room.
Prepare for the Response
We don’t know you, but we hope it all goes well for you. However, there is a chance that the number you ask for comes back reduced or perhaps even rejected. That’s ok! Remember this is a negotiation and that’s just part of the process. Prepare to consider any offer given to you, and don’t be afraid to ask for some time to carefully consider the offer. If your request has been plainly rejected, use this as an opportunity to more clearly define the criteria on which they judge your job performance. Having the right sets of tools is always going to help you perform better.
However, if your salary range is outright rejected, it could also be a sign that looking for your next career move may be only salary raise you’ll be getting at your current company. Be sure to have a backup plan if you are at a place where you are seriously banking on an increase in your yearly pay. Planning for a contingency is helpful for those times that everything doesn’t go to plan.
We Think You’re Going to Get It
If you got it, congratulations! The process starts again, this time with a whole new roadmap to act as a mirror of your accomplishments over the next year. You should always be thinking about your next salary negotiation, even if it’s just in the back of your mind. If you had a big win on a project or impressed the boss, make a note of it so you can feel even more prepared the next time you set out to get paid what you are worth.
Talking about money shouldn’t make you feel bad, and we hope that these tips will make you feel good about your next salary negotiation. Need some expert advice? Contact one of our recruiters and continue the discussion!