The Dos and Don’ts of Negotiating a Pay Raise

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Negotiating a pay raise is such a daunting task that surveys have found that most employees will outright avoid it. Despite this, there are things that you can do or not do to improve your chances of successful negotiation and make it seem less scary and more accessible.

What to Do When Negotiating a Pay Raise

Going into a negotiation without preparation is a recipe for failure. So, we will look at four very important things you should always do in preparation for a negotiation for a pay raise.

Find the Right Time

Timing is an essential part of the negotiation, but many people forget that you have to think about timing on both a macro and micro level. On the micro level, you will need to look at the events directly surrounding the time of your request. For example, if your boss is having a stressful day or you have flubbed a project, choose another time. If, on the other hand, it is a good day at work or you have just proven yourself on some important tasks, this gives you a better chance for a receptive conversation. On a macro level, you must be strategic with your timing. Do not just ambush your boss with a conversation about a pay raise out of nowhere. Set the stage. Talk to your boss about your goals for development enough so that when you start your negotiation for a pay raise, they understand where you are coming from.

Use Solid Data

Make a strong case for yourself during the negotiation by supporting it with cold, hard facts. These should include both market trends and your own part in your role. Perform research regarding average salaries for your role or location and present them as justification for your side. For example, if you are underpaid compared to your peers and there is no valid reason for it, bringing this up with your boss can make it clear that you are beginning to look externally, and they are unlikely to risk losing you and having a vacancy. For yourself, if you are the type of person that feels awkward about sounding like you are bragging or coming off as arrogant, putting together data on how your presence has positively impacted your employer, especially if you can back this up with numbers, can be a great way to talk yourself up without feeling weird about it. It also ascribes a clear value to your work.

Factor In Your Growth

Bring your professional growth during your time with your employer up in your negotiations. If you can demonstrate that you have improved your knowledge, increased your efficiency, broadened the range of tasks you do, or some combination of those, it will make a very strong case for an increase in compensation. You should additionally take a future-oriented approach to growth. Talk about how much more beneficial you can be to your employer as you continue your growth path, especially as it includes more essential and impactful roles and tasks.

Take Control of the Negotiation

It can be very easy to feel anxious or uncomfortable when going into a negotiation for a pay raise, but this is based on a fallacy. Instead of seeing the negotiation as begging or asking for a handout from a higher-up, see it as a discussion between two grown adults to find a solution that works for both. There are a few physiological tricks that you can use to control anxiety. Rather than holding your breath or hyperventilating, manage deep, controlled breathing. Have a glass of water with you and take a sip whenever you feel anxious or need time to think. Even if you do not need time to think, do not rush to speak whenever there is silence. Always leave a short pause.

What Not to Do When Negotiating a Pay Raise

It is easy to plan a strategy and go forward with it, but it can be more challenging to change or even consider things you would do as a habit. So, let's look at four things you should not do when negotiating a pay raise.

Don't Forget About Other Factors

If you have researched average industry pay and found that your salary is lower, do not just jump into the negotiation immediately while relying solely on that information. Many factors make up an employee's salary.

Some of these factors can be broader, like where you live and how pay scales with experience in the industry. Other factors can be more specific to your situation, like the finances of your employer or the exact selection of tasks you do or don't cover. If you don't pay attention to these, you'll find it hard to get what you want out of the negotiation.

Don't Forget About Other Decision-Makers

You might be used to taking all your work issues to your boss, but remember that unless they are the too. Going into the negotiation with this misunderstanding can not only the owner, and sometimes not even then, they may not have the authority to approve a pay raise for you unilaterally. Shareholders, directors, and senior managers may all have some part of the say in employee pay, and HR will often have guidelines for the managers to confuse your tactics, but it can also lead to frustrations and frictions if you feel that your boss is being stubborn or combative when in fact, their reasoning for stalling or declining might be that they have no personal choice in the matter and would be working on your behalf if you gave them the time to do so.

Don't Focus Solely on a Traditional Promotion

If your idea of promotion is the classic corporate ladder of a hierarchy of managers up to the CEO, you might be missing out on many opportunities for a pay raise outside of that progression. Taking this mindset and leading with it will limit your employer's options. It can be doubly counterproductive if something like a specialization instead of managership would give you both higher pay and more enjoyment in your role.

Don't Feel Trapped by Your Employer

Loyalty is an admirable personality trait, but if it only goes in one direction, you harm yourself with no benefit. Don't let employers take advantage of your loyalty. If your negotiations with your employer fail and it appears that you never will look elsewhere for work, you will stay stuck in the same position. Removing yourself from an unsatisfying employment situation will always be within your control. Even if you feel you will struggle to meet the job descriptions of vacancies, take the chance, and apply to those jobs. Often, the employers are not looking for a 100 percent match, nor can they find one.

Final Thoughts

We've learned the eight most important tips for what to do or not do when negotiating a pay raise. So if you have been planning this discussion with your boss for some time, you are ready to take the plunge.