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How to Negotiate Salary

By Bridget MacPherson

Whether we’re starting a new job or gunning for a promotion at our current one, we all know that we should be negotiating.

Or do we?

A survey by Salary.com revealed that only 37% of people always negotiate their salaries—while an astonishing 18% never do. Even worse, 44% of respondents claim to have never brought up the subject of a raise during their performance reviews.

The biggest reason for not asking for more? Fear.

And we get it: Negotiation can be scary. But what’s even scarier is not doing it.

So, whether you’re male or female, in your first job or your fifth, it’s time to learn how to negotiate. And we’re here to help, with a roundup of expert tips and further reading to get you totally prepped for your next negotiation.

  1. Know Your Value

If you want to get the pay that you deserve you need to know your value. It’s crucial to know the going rate for your position in your specific industry and in your geographic area. You can start by doing some research online and asking others in your industry. It’s also important to know your specific company and to do some research there first. Ask your colleagues what the last person in your position was like, if they think you are doing better or worse with the workload and if they ever applied for a raise as well. Its’ important to gouge how your company views pay rises so you can understand their mindsets behind them.

As you’re doing your research, you’ll likely come up with a range that represents your market value. It can be tempting to ask for something in the middle of the range, but instead you should ask for something toward the top.

First of all, you should assume you’re entitled to top pay and second, your employer will almost certainly negotiate down, so you need wiggle room to still end up with a salary you’re pleased with.

  1. Don’t make it personal

This is a business proposal, not a deep and meaningful. Pay rises legally can’t be given just because a manager likes you more or feels sorry for you, they have to be earned. Keep this in mind when speaking to your boss and instead of highlighting the sad reasons why you should get a pay rise, emphasise the great ones.  You must remember this is a business presentation, prepare accordingly. Create a detailed list of your achievements, hurdles you’ve overcome and successes that have amounted during your time and also include potential future ones. Remember this is about what you can do for the company, so focus on your work place ethic and achievement rather than your emotions.

  1. Create a “Brag Sheet” 

A Brag Sheet is a one-page summary that shows exactly how awesome you are as an employee. List any accomplishments, awards, and customer or co-worker testimonials.  You want to demonstrate your value to your boss so make sure to include as much as you can on how you benefited the company. What’s in it for the company is the core part of your presentation. How is giving you a pay rise going to be for the betterment of your organisation, lots of your time should be spent here.

Walk through your accomplishments with your manager. If possible, print a copy for your manager to look at while you summarize what you’ve achieved this year. You’ll want to specifically highlight times when you’ve gone above and beyond in your role, which will build the case that you deserve a raise. Then, be prepared with a few thoughts on what you’re excited to take on going forward—whether that’s freeing up some of your manager’s bandwidth by taking on an existing project, or proposing a new idea that you’re excited to own.

  1. Prepare prepare prepare

The one thing that’s really going to help you in a salary negotiation is preparation. As well as your “Brag Sheet” above you need to have a clear idea of what your boss expects from you, and how your performance is measured. To get a raise or a promotion you really need to be exceeding those expectations — and you’ll have to prove it.

Then rehearse! Write down what you want to say, and practice to a mirror, on video, or with a friend until you’re super comfortable having the conversation – it’s nerve racking enough as it is without losing your place or your cool half way through. A confident demeanour will also show your boss your confident in your abilities and how much you deserve a pay rise!

  1. Don’t Forget to Listen

Listening to the other party during a negotiation is almost as important as your argument. By really paying attention to what the other person is saying, you can understand his or her needs and incorporate them into finding a solution that makes you both happy. Plan your reasons, plan what you are going to say. Say it, then stop. Silence is OK. Many people blow deals by not shutting up answering for the manager.

  1. Don’t Fear the “No”

You may be afraid of rejection, but a negotiation doesn’t actually start until someone says “no.” It’s not really a negotiation if we’re asking for something we know our bargaining partner also wants. Negotiation is a conversation whose goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with yours. So understand that the “no” is just part of the process—not a statement on how you’re doing.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Counter (but don’t make threats)

If you ask for a higher salary and the employer says no? Doesn’t mean the conversation’s over. Be prepared to counter politely and keep pushing for your worth. Again, you ideally want to work (or keep working) with this person, so it’s important to keep the conversation positive. Whatever you do, don’t threaten to leave if you don’t get the raise. You also shouldn’t threaten your boss with other job offers, interviews, or recruiter conversations.  You could ask what it would take and what you need to improve upon in order to get an increase in the future.

  1. Keep Negotiating

Follow up in email after and don’t be afraid to bring it up with your manager at a later employee review or one on one. If this seems like a lot—well, unfortunately, it is. Negotiation is a complicated process with volumes of books on techniques, tactics, and scripts.

The good news? The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Even better, the more money you’ll bring home! So, get out there and start negotiating. You’ve now got the skills to do it right.