No matter how confident you are about your professional qualifications and skills, broaching the subject of a raise with your boss can still be uncomfortable.
Of course, it doesn’t help that all our lives adults taught us that talking about money was impolite, and this “money taboo” may be preventing many of us from asking for a salary increase even when we know we’re worth it.
A recent survey by Jobvite found that a mere 29% of job seekers had negotiated their salary at their most recent job, and only 38% of women said they’d feel comfortable negotiating at all. Even so, of the job seekers who had been able to muster up the courage to ask for a higher starting salary or pay raise, 84% were successful.
Clearly, many of us could be earning more, but aren’t simply because we want to avoid stepping on any toes or having a potentially awkward conversation.
So how can you get over your initial discomfort and have that all-important conversation with your boss? Here are a few tips for successfully negotiating your salary.
Should You Be Earning More? 5 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary
1. Find Out How Much You’re Worth
The best way to boost your confidence before approaching your boss with a request for a salary increase is to do some digging and find out how much you are actually worth.
What are the current pay rates for your type of work? Does the average salary vary based on where one lives? What are other professionals with comparable qualifications and job descriptions making within the same company?
Some good sources of information include sites like PayScale, Salary, and Glassdoor, but talking directly with other professionals who work in your industry or area of expertise can also be eye-opening.
Career coach and business consultant Karen Southall Watts points out that it’s important to understand your competition too. If you have a unique or in-demand skill set, you may be able to get your preferred salary right away, whereas if you’re competing against applicants with comparable qualifications, you may need to hold off and prove your worth before negotiating.
2. Prepare Your Case
Any time you intend to negotiate your salary, whether you’re asking for a pay raise or a higher starting salary, you need to prepare yourself to answer the question “Why should we pay you more?” So once you know how much you’re worth, it’s time to start preparing your case.
If you’re asking for a raise, write down some examples of times you solved big problems, saved the company money or brought in new business, as well as any additional responsibilities you’ve taken on since you were first hired or courses you’ve completed.
If you’ve been offered a new job and want to negotiate your starting salary, focus on your unique skills and accomplishments or experience. You can also draw on examples from past jobs to show employers why you’re worth it.
3. Get The Timing Right
If you’re hoping for a raise, waiting for certain months of the year or even times of day could improve your chances of getting a positive response.
Obviously, if you have a performance review coming up or your role is about to change that would be a good time to broach the subject, but according to data from LinkedIn, the specific months in which professionals receive the most raises are January, July, and September.
Psychologists also suggest steering clear of Mondays, which are notorious for producing negative moods, and asking on Fridays when your boss’s mood is likely to be more positive. One study also found that people have higher levels of moral awareness in the morning, so requesting a meeting earlier on in the day could be a good idea.
4. Leave Some Room for Negotiation
When discussing your desired salary, start with a figure that’s slightly higher than what you actually want so there’s room to negotiate and compromise if necessary.
There may also be times when you deserve a raise but the company simply can’t afford to pay you more, so if money is tight and your boss can’t increase your salary, there might be other ways in which you could be compensated for your good work.
For instance, you could ask for extra benefits, additional vacation days, a more flexible work schedule or even support for professional development courses that can help boost your salary in the long run.
5. Practice Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you feel uncomfortable or even downright terrified of asking for more money, you need to practice. Of course, you could ask a friend or family member to help you run through the scenario a few times, but while this might help you memorize your lines, it won’t force you out of your comfort zone.
Instead, put yourself in unfamiliar situations that will force you to discuss money. For example, you could ask for a freebie when placing your order at a restaurant or request a discount when buying a new piece of furniture. The point is not necessarily to get the discount but to practice pushing past your initial discomfort and talk about money more openly.
Finally, remember that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking. The worst thing that could happen is that your boss says “No” or suggests revisiting the question in a few months time. Even if you don’t get what you want the first time around, you’ll be better prepared for future negotiations.
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