Many people find asking to be paid more money awkward. How will your request be perceived? Will you look greedy or demanding? Are you sure you’re really worth what you’re asking for? The key to answering these questions and reaching a successful outcome is preparation. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to prepare for a salary negotiation. It just takes a few simple steps.
1. Think about timing.
The first step in preparing for a salary discussion is to consider timing. In general, it’s better to discuss salary after you receive a job offer rather than once you start a position. Companies generally expect there will be some negotiations before a person formally accepts a position, and assuming you have done your market research, you should be comfortable knowing the salary range and typical benefits for your position and in your location.
However, many people decide to have this conversation when they have been in a job for a time and desire a raise. If this is the case, look at whether you’ve had changes in job responsibilities. Have you taken on new roles or tasks? Or have you recently completed a successful project? If so, this would be an appropriate time to ask for an increase.
Another rule of thumb is that it’s better to ask for a raise when you’re happy in your job, versus feeling dissatisfied. You want to bring a positive attitude to the negotiating table, because that suggests you are committed to the company and are in for the long haul. After all, who wants to reward a disgruntled employee?
It’s also helpful to look at how the company is doing. If it just announced layoffs, don’t ask for a raise. On the other hand, it reported a 15% increase in profits over the last quarter, that is probably a better time.
Be strategic with your timing; don’t make your annual review the default time to discuss a raise. The purpose of a review is to evaluate your performance over a time period, whereas a salary discussion should reflect your recent achievements and value creation for the company.
2. Do your homework.
If you’ve decided that the timing is right, then you need to do some homework. Take a look at what is going on in the market, your industry, and your position. Try to find that information for your local market, because salaries and costs of living vary widely around the country.
To gather these data, it’s often useful to reach out to your professional network. Obviously, you can’t go around asking people what they make, but you can ask them to validate a range. You also can see if any professional organizations or websites provide data on average salaries around the country in your industry. Another resource might be your human resources department, as many HR groups track salaries and provide information on salary ranges.
3. Blow your own horn.
When you are confident that the amount you want to ask for is appropriate, it’s time to actually have the conversation. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have solid facts to support your request: the range of salaries in your region for your position, the value you are adding (or will add) for the company, and your commitment to the company’s future success. This is the time to demonstrate things like how you’ve increased productivity, customer satisfaction, and efficiency. If you’ve saved or earned the company money, it’s helpful to provide concrete examples. In other words, it is now the time to blow your horn.
4. Don’t compare.
During the conversation, avoid the pitfall of comparing your current salary with that of a coworker. The last thing a manager wants to hear is, “I should get a $5,000 raise because John makes that much.” First, you don’t always really know what someone else makes. Second, you don’t know all the factors determining that salary. For example, the person could have worked at the company longer, have more education, or have different types of experience that affect their salary.
5. Stay calm.
No matter what happens, keep your emotions in check. Not every salary negotiation is successful. If it becomes clear that the manager will not support your request, think about what your next steps might be. Perhaps you can ask to revisit the issue again in six months. Or you might see if there are additional tasks you can take on that could lead to a salary increase down the road. Also, consider whether there are other perks available. If a salary raise isn’t possible right now, could you ask for more vacation time or a health club membership? If more money or perks aren’t an option, then try to end the conversation on a positive note. Leave the door open for future discussions.
Source: This article is by Neal Hartman, a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management who focuses on organizational communication issues. http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2015/08/03/the-five-steps-to-successfully-negotiating-your-salary/