11 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary or a Raise
Posted on August 10, 2016
Congratulations! You got a job offer OR you got promoted. Now it’s time to get down to business and discuss your salary. I remember reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, LEAN IN, about a year ago. She talks about her salary negotiations with Mark Zuckerberg and says it was the only time they’d be on “opposite sides” of the table. And it’s true – typically you are on the same “team” or the same “side” as your employer even though it might not feel that way in the negotiation. Here are some tips that will help you navigate salary negotiation:
You’re On the Same Team. As I mentioned above, although it might not feel like you are on the same team during a salary negotiation – you are. Your employer wouldn’t consider giving you a raise if they didn’t want you to work at the company or if they didn’t think you were performing well. If you are doing your job, the employer WANTS to make you happy. It’s in the employer’s best interest for you to be happy.
Know the Company Procedures for Raises. At most large companies, you don’t talk about a raise until you hit the one year mark and then every year you have an evaluation that comes along with a discussion about getting a raise. Before you commit to a job, ask how long they typically wait before discussing raises and promotions just to manage your own expectations. Once you get close to that date, you may ask your employer if you can set a meeting to discuss.
There is a Budget (of some sort). One of the hard things to remember when you are on the employee side of the conversation is that there is typically a budget in place for employees at a company. If the budget for employees gets too high, the business could comprise it’s health (meaning its ability to stay profitable). Sometimes when employees ask for high numbers and an employer says no, it literally has nothing to do with the employee and everything to do with the overall numbers of the business and how much budget that business can allocate to employees. A big tip that comes to mind here – is never take a raise too personally – as it’s typically just a numbers game. Will employees revisit the overall budget of the company if they really like you? Sure. But that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be able to change it.
Know What You Need. There is a difference between wanting a number and needing a number. When you graduate college, there is a certain amount of money you will NEED to make to pay your rent, pay your bills, and put food on the table for yourself (and maybe get a cheap gym membership or something). Before you apply for jobs, you need to write down your expenses and figure out what this number is. If you already work at a company and you know you need to make more money because you always feel like you have no extra money, ask for a raise (as long as you’ve been there at least one year). If things are getting so bad that you might have to quit – sit down with your employer and have an honest conversation. But just as I would instruct a recent graduate, know your number. Know what you need to be happy. That number will change as you get older, wiser, more experienced, and start to live different lifestyles. You have to be ready to say NO if the job isn’t going to pay you what you need. Being stressed about your financials is never a good idea. Keep in mind the number you need and the number you want are two different numbers.
Don’t Compare Apples to Oranges. Here’s an example. I run an internship start-up and it could be labeled as a “marketing” company. Even though Glassdoor.com might say that a typical starting salary for a “marketing coordinator” is 60K per year – there is no way that I can pay a marketing coordinator 60K per year – I’m a start-up and don’t have the cash flow that a large marketing agency might have. If you are going to take the time to do the research – research companies that are of a similar size, talk to friends who also work at companies of a similar size. Try to better understand the size and type of company you are working with so you ask for numbers that make sense.
Always Ask. As a business owner, I don’t like when employees don’t negotiate or at least ask for something. I like to see that they are asking for something practical and not pulling a number out of the sky. But I have a certain appreciation for people that have the guts to ask. Even if I say no to their “ask”, I still walk away impressed.
If You Aren’t Doing Your Job – The Conversation Might Not Go Well. It doesn’t matter what you do for the company and how much you go “beyond your paycheck” if you aren’t mastering and exceling at the job you were hired for. I wrote a few blogs about getting evaluated by your boss. If your evaluations aren’t going well and you ranking off the charts – that is going to be a mega factor when you employers considers giving you a raise.
Understand Your Value and Articulate it. As I mentioned in the point above, if you aren’t doing the job you are hired for – it’s going to be difficult to talk about all of the “other things you do well” however – you may as well bring them up. If you ask for a bump in your starting salary or a raise, you’d better be ready to answer one important question which is, ‘Why should we pay you more money? What value are you adding?” When I think about super valuable employees, I think about employees that are going to stay with my company long-term, employees that bring outside valuable relationships to the business, employees that have a great attitude and perform well under pressure, employees that aren’t afraid to go “outside of their paycheck” and help someone in a different department, and employees that bring creative revenue-generating ideas to the table. Think about what value you bring and be able to articulate at least 3-5 strong points.
Don’t Talk to Co-Workers About Pay. I always thought this was the oldest rule in the book but apparently this still happens. You never know someone else’s situation and why they do or don’t make less than you. Worry about your own situation – getting in other people’s business will never work out for you. Mind your business and let other people mind theirs. You want to get a raise or a certain salary because you earned it not because of someone else’s paycheck.
Think About How You’ll Handle a NO. This is probably my most depressing tip but I think its important to consider. When you ask for a raise, your employer is either going to say yes, no, or they’ll give you a little less than you ask for. They probably won’t give you more – but you never know. Here’s my question for you. If an employer says no to giving you a raise, how will you handle it? Think about that before you even ask for a raise because they might say no and if you still want to work at that company, you’re going to need to handle yourself in a professional manner. Have a plan for going into a raise and coming out of it.
Remember, a Raise Isn’t a Break. If you DO get a raise, just remember that the more money you make, the more a company is relying on you to perform and to do a great job. The more budget that gets allocated towards YOU the employee, the most a business is going to pay attention to the work you are putting out. If you get a raise – great – but now it’s time to show the business that you deserve it and that you’ll perform even better because of it.
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