CHS Careerist: Tips for Negotiating a Raise

With the popularity of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, New York City editors have noticed an uptick in female employees asking for raises.  Recently, I read an article that most employees ask for raises in January and June, so since we’re coming up on the half-year mark, I thought I would post some thoughts on negotiating a raise.

Trying to decide if now is a good time to ask for a raise?  This flowchart from Lifehacker can help you suss out what factors might make now a good time to ask for a raise.

If you’re seriously considering asking for a raise, the first place I would go is to the Levo League.  Because as the site says, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you ask for.  They have helpful tips and videos to get you thinking about how much you should ask for, how to ask and how to move forward with a negotiation.  And should you feel like you need some in person coaching, Levo is having an event this Thursday in D.C. to help school young women on the art of salary negotiation.

Another great website to visit is Glass Door.  If you work in the private sector, it can give you a better sense of what others in your field are making.  They also have a great blog where they provide valuable tips on asking for a raise.  I found this post on not making the first move in a negotiation particularly helpful.

As for my own advice, having been on both sides of the desk for a salary negotiation, I can tell you that the best thing you can do is come into the room confident and prepared.

Asking for a raise is nerve-wracking.  I’d rather take part in a live fire exercise than sit across from my Boss and explain why I’m worth more money than he’s paying me.  And when I was younger, I would let that internal weakness undermine my negotiations.  Twice, I took less than I deserved because that little voice in my head said, “You’re lucky to have a job at all, take the first offer so you don’t offend anyone.”

Later on, I realized that that little voice is a wimp and a liar.  As long as you handle your negotiations with strength, class and professionalism, you won’t offend anyone (unless you boss is the most sensitive human alive, he/she will understand that dealing with raise requests is part of the job).  And if you know that what you’re asking for is fair, in line with other salaries for your position and justified by your value to the company, then you’re not wrong to ask.

So before you go into the room, spend a solid hour thinking about your request, things to say to your Boss and answers to his questions.  Think of counterpoints to common arguments like, “now is a really bad time” or “you know the office is in a tight financial spot.”  As Monster points out, negotiating a salary, esp. in a tight fiscal climate, means that you need to be prepared to demonstrate your value to the office with evidence of your worth.

Lastly, this article from Forbes lists out seven no-nos when asking for a raise, which can help focus you on the right things to do.

In closing, I’ll say it again, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you ask for.

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  1. Sam says:

    I hope some of this will give me the confidence to ask for the raise I know I deserve. I have never had to ask for one before and negotiating is not my strong-suit so I am terrified of offending my boss or looking like a bozo. Thanks!!

    May 15, 2013/Reply
  2. mk says:

    Thank you for writing about this important issue and sharing resources. I’m glad to hear that women overall are making a better effort to negotiate and to ask for raises. Always, always fight for what you’re worth. I just saw an article the other day that said new statistics showed employers automatically offer men more BECAUSE they know the men will automatically negotiate anything, especially anything that seems low; whereas they automatically offer women the low end of the range BECAUSE they expect (and experience bears this out) that women won’t negotiate. So it’s about time we create a new set of expectations to help us avoid getting low-balled in the first place.

    Remember that the worst someone can say is “no,” and they won’t rescind the offer. If they do, (which honestly is such poor form and lacking good faith that it’s never done) then you know it’s a place where they would’ve screwed you further at every turn once you came on board. Plus that’s not the impression any organization would want being retold to other potential candidates on sites like Glass Door, or by word of mouth–the world is a small place.

    Moreover, remember that your worth as a person isn’t wrapped up in how these people react–a good thing to recall when dealing with existing relationships in asking for a raise. Their (potential) discomfort has nothing to do with you knowing you’re doing the right thing for you!

    May 15, 2013/Reply
    • cara says:

      YES! I say this all the time to people who are getting into the salary part of accepting a job offer– Get what you are worth NOW and don’t take their first offer. 1) You will not lose the offer because you asked for more money. I have NEVER heard one story of this happening to anyone. Unless you are so far off that its painfully obvious they can’t afford you, and in that case you should walk away and not take a job for less than you’re worth. 2) It can take years to make up that $10K in COL raises and you never know what will happen down the road (freezes, furloughs, etc) 3) The company’s ability (or inability) to be agile and dedicate resources demonstrates a lot about how they run their business. If you are the right candidate and your salary request is reasonable and fair- they should be able to come up with an additional $5-10-15K. If they are unwilling or unable, walk away. That’s a red flag to signal a number of things: troublesome budget/resource issues (can’t find 5K?), they don’t place importance on good talent and people (so who knows what current staff talent level is!), they don’t reward good work, etc. What you get walking in the door will set you up for bigger raises and a better situation for the long haul- don’t miss the opportunity because you don’t want to seem ungrateful or rude- it is neither to stand up for what you are worth, demand it, and get it. Plus it feels damn good! 🙂

      May 16, 2013/Reply
  3. chicky says:

    Why do you capitalize boss?

    May 15, 2013/Reply
  4. J says:

    What would you advise doing if you are offered a raise, without asking, but its less than you would have asked for? I.e., I’m expecting a salary bump at the end of the fiscal year, but don’t know if it will be as much I would like. How do I come off as grateful that I was considered for a raise without my asking, yet, get a higher bump? Is that even possible?

    May 15, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Hmmm, that’s a tough one.

      Express your gratitude, say how happy you are to work for a company where your work is valued, and then say “but given (examples of work you’ve done and responsibilities you’ve that add value to the company), I feel that X would be more reflective of my contributions to the office/company.” Make sure to maintain a pleasant, even tone of voice and to stress your gratitude for them taking the initiative to offer a bump. If your boss asks, “if you had a number in mind, why didn’t you request an increase?” Tell him/her that you suspected that he/she might broach the subject first, and you wanted to wait until that time.

      That’s how I would do it, anyone else have thoughts on the matter?

      May 15, 2013/Reply
  5. Erica // cupcakes+coffee breaks says:

    This is a really great article. I still remember how shocked I was to find out in my business masters program that women often get paid less than men because they fail to negotiate their starting salaries. I was shocked because I thought ‘wait I can negotiate my starting salary? Even as a new graduate!?’. How did I get through 5.5 years of school before I learned that!?

    I’m definitely still learning how to negotiate, and I’ve only had one opportunity to do so (they said no, but I felt good about asking anyway), so great post, thanks for this. Bookmarking it for later to come back to!

    May 16, 2013/Reply