Money is the primary reason that a lot of us work, in addition, of course, to the natural human need to feel accomplished and important. The amount of money an individual makes says a lot about them. It shows what their employer thinks they are worth, whether they are educated or not, and whether they have an extraordinary skill worth paying a little extra for. Usually one’s salary increases with their skill level and experience. Sometimes, however, companies forget about giving that ten percent salary increase one year and you are left wondering whether or not you should go in and talk to your employer about your salary. Sometimes an individual starts out in a position that is paying them way below what they should be making, but they take the job because they are worried they won’t find another one (especially in this economy) or because they assume that their employer will eventually see that they should be paying them more. When these people don’t get the money they think they deserve, they start thinking about walking into their boss’s office to ask for a salary increase.
The most important time, and maybe your only real opportunity, to negotiate for a higher salary is when you are starting a new position. This is when the employer will ask you, “So, what is your salary expectation?” While this can be an awkward question, especially to those just starting out in the workforce, it is an important one that needs to be thoroughly thought out before you even step into the interview room with the employer. My first job interview out of law school was with a corporation. Before I even left for the interview my husband told me to be prepared to answer the all-important salary question. I brushed this suggestion off, thinking that the employer would know what they wanted to pay me. Lo and behold, I was asked what I thought I should be paid. While I provided the interviewer with an option, it was not a narrow enough option. In the end I got the job, but I was making next to nothing (although I got salary bumps per me passing the bar exam and upon one year of working there). Looking back I now see that I should have been prepared to negotiate my salary at the interview. So, if you are in a position in which you are being offered a new job and have the ability to really negotiate your salary, make sure you think about what you want to be making, what you should be making, and what you are worth to the employer. Tell the employer what your salary expectation is and stay firm.
If you are not in a position to change jobs and negotiate your salary, negotiating your salary may be a little trickier and uncomfortable. Before you walk into your boss’s office here are some things you should consider:
What Are You Worth?
We all tend to have a overinflated sense of what we are actually worth to a company. We always think that the work we are doing or the service we are providing is valuable. While this may be the case, you need be able to prove your net worth to your boss to explain why you deserve a higher salary. You will not receive a salary increase just because you have been working with the company for a year and have caused no problems. An employer will only increase your salary if you continue to prove that you are worthy of that salary. Before you go in and ask for that raise, be prepared to discuss why you deserve it. Make a list of thing that you have accomplished in the past year and a list of things that you will accomplish in the following year. If there are studies out there showing what a person in your position should be making, print those off and present them to your boss. Showing that you are worth what you are asking for is the best shot you have at actually increasing your salary.
Be Prepared to Give Something Up.
When people are negotiating they often want to feel as if they are gaining something from the deal. If you walk into your boss’s office and ask for a higher salary, be prepared that he may ask what you are willing to give up for that salary. Vacation days? Severance pay? Sick days? The corner office? While many employers would not stoop to this level, some will. So be prepared to say what you will, or will not, give up in exchange for the higher salary you want.
While I think it is important to stick to your guns when negotiating a salary, be flexible in the sense that the salary increase can come in other forms. For example, if you are looking for a $20,000 raise and your boss agrees to $15,000 plus an additional week of vacation, I would say take it! One week of vacation can be just as valuable as that extra $5,000. Think about what other perks you are willing to accept in addition to actual money.
Take the Emotion Out of It.
Oftentimes women find it hard to negotiate, especially if it is for an increase in money. For some reason it is against our very nature to go out there, talk about ourselves, and show others that we are worth more than we are making. Women are also fearful that their boss will be upset with them if they ask for this salary increase. While these are all legitimate concerns, women need to remember that business is business. Men ask for salary increases all the time. Women need to learn to take the emotion out of the negotiation and act as if they are negotiating for someone else (which is easier for women to do). Pretend you are asking for a salary increase for your daughter or your best friend, not yourself. This may make it easier to point out your value to the company. Whatever you have to go to get the courage to walk in your boss’s office, do it. And remember that business is business and money is most certainly part of business.
Lastly, Believe in Yourself and Your Skill.
The most important part of salary negotiation is believing in yourself and the skill set you bring to the table. If you don’t believe in yourself why should your boss? No matter how nerve-racking it is to walk into your boss’s office and bring up the money topic, look confident. This will in turn make you feel more confident and will make your boss feel more comfortable giving you the well deserved salary increase.
What tactics have used to increase your salary?