Pay & Salary

How To Negotiate a Raise at Work

June 24, 2021

During your career, you may determine that you need additional compensation for your efforts. Seeking a raise requires having confidence in the value you provide, along with interpersonal skills that enable you to communicate with your employer effectively. When you understand how to negotiate a raise, it can help you feel more confident having this conversation with your employer. In this article, we offer a series of helpful steps you can use to negotiate a raise at work.

Why is it important to negotiate a raise?

Negotiating a raise is an essential component of career advancement. As you grow professionally and continue to contribute positive results to your employer and organization, you may seek opportunities to enhance your salary. An increased salary or additional benefits can help you feel valued at work. This feeling can make you more engaged and boost your confidence at work. Employers may also combine your raise with more responsibilities at work, which serve as opportunities for you to develop new skills and potentially advance to higher-level positions in the organization.

Related: How to Ask for a Raise (With Example)

12 steps to negotiate a raise

Following these steps will help you prepare for your negotiation meeting with your employer:

1. Assess your company's current situation

Understanding your organization's current situation can help you assess whether it is the right time to start negotiations for a raise. Identify any potential obstacles that could hinder this process. For example, if your organization recently had lay-offs or performed other cost-cutting activities due to declining performance and growth. Even if you identify obstacles, you can still seek a raise by adjusting your expectations and lowering the amount.

When your company is experiencing challenges, focus your negotiation efforts on how you can benefit the organization. For example, you can align your skill set and abilities with the specific challenges facing your supervisor. Showing how you can solve their problems and support their business interests may help you convince them to give you a raise or promotion more effectively. Remember that when you make these promises, your employer expects you to follow through on them in exchange for the raise.

2. Research salary data for your position

When determining how much to ask for in your raise, you can research salary data related to your position, level of experience, and geographic location. You can often find such information online, including on Indeed. This data serves as evidence that your requested raise is fair and aligns with market rates. Having this evidence may help you feel more comfortable and confident during negotiations. Further, when employers understand how other companies are paying people with your qualifications, it can help convince them to give you the raise so the organization can remain a competitive option for future job candidates.

Related: How To Negotiate Salary (With Examples)

3. Determine your raise request

Once you identify the typical salary for your position and qualifications, you can decide on a target range you want to ask for from your employer. Based on your research, this range should start with the lowest amount you would feel comfortable with and the highest amount that reasonably aligns with market rates. When negotiating this raise, you may begin by suggesting the higher amount and show flexibility by negotiating downwards until you and your employer meet a fair compromise.

4. Consider additional benefits

To aid your negotiations, develop a list of other benefits you may accept rather than or in combination with a lower raise. Having these options helps you feel more comfortable if your employer cannot give you the original raise you requested and shows your flexibility. Some examples of benefits include:

  • Additional paid time off
  • More flexibility in your schedule
  • Stock options
  • Remote workdays

Both you and your employer can benefit from negotiating these alternatives. If your employer is willing to offer you additional benefits, it helps you feel like your workplace values your work. Meanwhile, gaining these benefits serves as an incentive for you to continue staying engaged with your organization and providing positive contributions.

5. Perform a self-assessment to identify your accomplishments

Once you have determined what to ask for, you can develop a list of accomplishments to help convince your employer that you deserve a raise. Highlight the positive, quantifiable results you have contributed that supported your company's goals. For example, you may have led a marketing campaign that attracted over 15,000 new customers to the business. When employers see this evidence, it can help prove the value you bring to the organization. Similarly, if you have taken on additional work or responsibilities, you may explain how a raise would help you fulfill them more effectively.

Related: How To Perform a Self-Assessment

6. Practice your negotiation strategy

Now that you have the information you need, you can schedule a meeting with your employer to negotiate your raise. In the days or weeks leading up to this meeting, ask a friend or family member to practice your negotiation strategy with you. When possible, ask someone who has prior negotiating experience and can offer helpful feedback. They may also suggest potential counterarguments from employers to help you practice your responses. The more you practice your negotiation and relevant interpersonal skills, the more comfortable you will feel performing them during the meeting.

Related: What is Interpersonal Communication and How Can You Use It In The Workplace

7. Present your pitch

As you enter the negotiation process, you can structure your conversation as a presentation or sales pitch. This tactic can help you stay focused on your goal of obtaining a raise and limit distractions. However, do not produce a presentation deck to present to your employer. Instead, you may bring concise notes to use as reference points. Treat this meeting as a conversation where both sides listen to each other.

In your opening statement, define the raise you are seeking and a few sentences that explain why you deserve it. As mentioned, you can highlight your most impressive achievements or results. When discussing the raise amount, use your research as supporting evidence that it is a fair request according to market standards.

8. Remain calm

Do not let your emotions guide the negotiation process. Even if part of the reason you want a raise is to support your personal needs, such as paying your bills, focus on the facts that matter most to your employer. These facts may align with their business interests, such as your ability to achieve organizational goals. Showing your quantifiable value helps remind them why you deserve a raise. Remaining calm also helps you establish trust and maintain a professional relationship with your employer.

9. Show flexibility

Employers appreciate flexibility from employees, as it shows that you will address their needs rather than just your own. You may not always get what you asked for exactly, so prepare to make some compromises. However, you still need to look out for your best interests, so you may have some areas where you are not willing to compromise.

As mentioned, you can develop a salary range you feel comfortable with, along with additional benefits that may supplement your raise. During your negotiation conversation, you can highlight these details to make compromises that work for both parties. If your employer says that they cannot offer you a raise yet, you may also find a compromise by developing a timeline that works. For example, they may be able to offer you a raise at the end of the year or a bonus for meeting specific goals.

10. Know when to stop negotiations

Take your time during the negotiation process until you meet a point where you feel comfortable. As mentioned, you may need to make some compromises to align with your employer's needs. However, avoid rushing yourself to accept terms you don't agree with to end the negotiation process. Similarly, avoid giving your employer ultimatums, which puts pressure on them and may make them feel unhappy with the situation.

When you arrive at an agreement that makes everyone feel comfortable, it provides a natural end to the conversation. If you and your employer can't agree on a raise, it's okay to pause or end the conversation and decide to return to it at a later time. After the conversation, you may also take time to consider your options. For example, you may think about looking elsewhere within the organization or externally for job opportunities with higher salaries.

11. Thank them for their time

No matter the outcome, always leave negotiations on a positive note. You want to ensure you maintain a respectful and professional relationship with your employer as you continue working together. If they accept your raise request, you can thank them for their time and express enthusiasm at any next steps you agreed to take.

Similarly, remember to thank your employer even if they could not meet your requests. Show them you appreciate they took the time to meet with you and hear your pitch. This respect helps you maintain a positive reputation. Hopefully, in the future, they may think about you for advancement opportunities or show a willingness to consider a raise.

12. Ask for feedback

When your employer rejects your raise request, you may ask for their reasoning if you feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes this decision is out of their control, but their insights may help you develop stronger pitches for the future. When asking for feedback, avoid rejecting or arguing with their reasons. Show your respect by listening to what they have to say and taking notes or asking questions when appropriate.


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