Time For a Raise? Here’s How to Negotiate One

The Prepped Team

April 21, 2021

5 min

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COVID-19 was challenging for many companies, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a raise is off the table. It’s possible to negotiate a raise, even in a down economy, if you put in the work to make your case.

While salary isn’t always the most important part of the job, being underpaid for the work you’re doing can negatively impact your overall performance and your willingness to stay. Companies know the value of retaining employees and it’s possible they’re more open to giving you a raise than you think.

But navigating the raise negotiations process can be nerve-wracking. So, if you’re ready to sharpen your negotiation skills and ask for a salary raise, this article is for you.

5 Salary negotiation tips

The key to a successful negotiation is preparation. This isn’t simply restricted to negotiating your wage, it applies to any negotiation when it comes to your career. 

When it comes to negotiating a raise, you need to know exactly what you’re asking for, why you’re asking for it, and be able to present a well-argued case. These five tips can help you prepare:

1. Know your worth

You deserve a raise, but you need to know how much you want before you start asking. It’s hard to get what you want when you don’t know what exactly that is. Make sure to walk to the negotiating table with a number in mind and a reason behind it.

There are two factors to consider when figuring out how much you should ask for. The first is to look at what everyone is making. You need to figure out how your current salary stacks up against similar positions to yours. A resource like Payscale can help you determine the salary and benefits of others in the same industry, role, and level of experience.

The second important factor to consider is your company. You also need to “read the room,” as they say. Research the history of the company and find out if there are any internal (or external) factors that pose a challenge to you getting a pay raise. Red flags could include recent layoffs or team and department mergers.

Armed with this information, you want to put this all together to determine the number you’re comfortable asking for.

2. Create a case for your raise 

Now you’ll need to make a case for the salary you’re asking for. When it comes to negotiating a raise, it’s up to you to do the heavy lifting. Yes, hopefully, your boss knows how you’ve contributed to the team and your quality of work, but packaging that all up into a well-prepared argument is key.

Start with the numbers and go from there. Being able to quantify your contribution, especially as it relates to the company and your department’s bottom line is key. If you manage the company’s social media channels, what kind of growth have you achieved in the past year? If you’re part of the supply chain team, how have you saved the company money? Dollars and cents speak directly to your value with the company. They’re not the only factor but they’re one of the biggest.

Spend time compiling a list of your accomplishments and accolades. What responsibilities have you taken on since your current salary was set and how have they provided value to the company since? Then outline any awards or recognition you’ve received from colleagues, managers, and clients. Armed with this information, you’ll be in a great place to start salary negotiations.

3. Practice the ask

It’s time to lean on those valuable skills you earned in your high school drama class and practice the big ask ahead of time. We’ve all had that moment after a conversation is over where we’ve come up with the perfect response and mentally kicked ourselves for not saying it—don’t be that person at the negotiating table.

Talking about money can make the best of us nervous, but rehearsing your lines beforehand can make having the actual conversation easier. Ask a trusted friend or family member to ask questions and go through different scenarios to help you clarify your case. 

4. Start the conversation

Armed with your well-thought-out case and having rehearsed it, it’s time to start the conversation with your manager. You want to present your case and allow your manager to thoughtfully consider it. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Don’t compare yourself to others on your team. Your salary increase is about you and your work, not theirs. 
  • Don’t present your current salary or position as a problem.
  • Keep calm. Getting worked up or angry is not a professional way to handle a negotiation.
  • Don’t give an ultimatum., While this might work in some situations, it’s a losing hand in others. It can also risk damaging your reputation, as well as your relationship with your manager and the company.

Remember that starting the conversation is just that: a start. 

5. Be prepared to wait for an answer

Negotiating a raise can be an ongoing process and you probably won’t walk out of the room with an answer right away. This is not something to be concerned with, performance evaluations and company decisions are often ongoing.

Even if your manager agrees with your argument, they’ll likely need time to think about it, revisit the department budget, and get the approvals in place. The bigger the company you work for, the longer this process can take.

When you and your manager come to an agreement on a raise, you need to discuss the logistics. When will this raise come into effect? What new responsibilities and expectations might come as part of it? And what can you do to continue on your current career trajectory?

What to do if you don’t get your raise

If your manager doesn’t agree with your case or they suggest waiting six months or a year, it doesn’t mean the conversation is over. 

Work with your manager to figure out the best way to get from your current salary to the raise you want. You can ask your manager to help set expectations and goals that’ll help you get there, as well as laying out a timeline for you to meet them. Ask when the two of you can revisit the conversation and reassess a salary increase. 

A “no” right now doesn’t mean a “no” forever. It simply means that you need to adjust your expectations and make the necessary changes that will put you on the right path to getting the raise you want.

Be your own advocate

While you’ll have plenty of people in your corner throughout your career, it’s important to be your own advocate. You are the only one that knows what’s best for you.

Negotiating a raise is something that you’ll likely come across a few times throughout your career. It’s important that you put in the work, in order to get what you want. One way you can make this process easier is by keeping a running list of all of your accolades and achievements. This way, when it comes to preparing for the conversation of asking for a raise, you’ll be off to a good start.

Sign up for Prepped to get access to career tools, templates and resources, and improve your odds of getting a raise.