Negotiating a raise: Dos and Don'ts

The key to a smooth salary negotiation is preparation.

Few people enjoy discussing money, and even fewer people enjoy asking for money. It can, obviously, be awkward and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, such conversations are often an unavoidable component of holding down a stable job. At some point or another you will likely have a salary review, or a more general meeting with your boss to discuss your performance and negotiate a raise.

Such conversations needn't be so daunting, however. The key to a smooth salary negotiation is preparation. Before your next salary review, check out some pointers about what is and is not appropriate during negotiations:


1. Your research
The first step to negotiating a higher wage is to complete some research about how much your position is typically worth across the industry. Are you making considerably less than the state or national average? If so, it's important to bring this information to the table during the discussion, Business Insider advised. Asserting the market value for your position is a good impetus for your employer to offer you a higher wage.

"Do your research, but make sure it comes from a reputable source and ideally more than one – a salary survey, recruiting professionals, mentors, etc.," saysLorri Zelman, Division Director of Beacon Hill's HR Division in New York City. "You are building a business case. Whenever you ask for something, you want to prove your value first with quantifiable facts and data. No one wants a request for something they deserve 'just because'."

2. Have a figure in mind
Through your research you should be able to reach an idea as to the amount of money that you want and deserve. How much do you believe your services are worth? Business Insider advised that an effective strategy for reaching this figure is to assess the amount of money that your work has brought in on certain projects, how much it would cost to replace you, and so on.

3. Promote your accomplishments
A good way to approach a salary negotiation is to think of it as an interview - you're there to promote your abilities and achievements. Explain to your employer why you're an asset and bring evidence of projects you have completed and praise you have received. For example, you may wish to bring in some work samples or evidence of praise in an email chain, Business Insider stated. Although some people may not be comfortable praising themselves so highly, it's important to try and be as assertive and confident as you possibly can, while remaining polite and calm.

"Approach a salary negotiation the same way as an interview"

4. Consider options other than money
Don't assume that your company is sitting on an excessive amount of free money and are simply holding out on you. Sometimes no has to mean no because the organization simply cannot afford your raise. If you find yourself in this situation, it could be time to talk about other potential benefits, Forbes argued. Whether it's a couple of extra paid-time off days or a more flexible working schedule, keep in mind that it isn't just money that is open to negotiations.

A salary negotiation needn't be awkward or difficult.


1. Be confrontational
As discussed, talking about money is rarely comfortable. Consequently, the risk that one or more parties may become anxious, irritated or even angry increases. It's imperative that this isn't you. Indeed, as Business Insider advised, don't adopt the frame of mind that your boss is the enemy. You are there for a civil discussion with your boss, who more than likely has your best interests at heart. It's important not to lose sight of that fact.

2. Name a number first
Business Insider reported that your employer will likely ask you to name a figure first. If at all possible, avoid answering this question, and instead have your manager disclose what they are comfortable with or able to provide. At that point you negotiate upward if necessary. Also keep in mind that most offers are usually open to negotiation - employers will have more wiggle room than they will let on and will offer you the lowest figure first, with the expectation that you will ask for more.

3. Make threats
Another big no no is making threats to your employer if you don't get your way, CIO explained. Do not issue an ultimatum such as "If I don't get the raise I want I'll leave." Such a strategy reflects poorly on your personality and strains your relationship with your manager. That's not to mention the fact that it's a risky move, as the employer could very well call you bluff and suggest you resign.

4. Complain about your job
Of course, a salary negotiation should be regarded as a discussion between equals. But it's important to keep in mind that, at the end of the day, the individual you will likely be negotiating with is still your boss, and he or she will have the final call. Consequently, it is vital not to get angry and complain about your job and/or workload. As noted, it's true that you may have an excessive amount of work, but you're unlikely to garner sympathy or support from your boss if you seem bitter and angry. Such an approach will only make you appear ungrateful, and undeserving of a raise.

5. Fill every silence
There may well be a number of silences during the negotiation process, which can heighten the tension. But silences needn't always be filled. It's okay for you to take a moment to consider an offer, and the same goes for your employer.

In summation
Ultimately, the key to salary negotiation success is the following:

  • Remain calm and polite.
  • Keep an open mind - be open to suggestions.
  • Provide evidence of your accomplishments.
  • Pitch a reasonable number, based on research.
  • Don't get upset or irritated.
  • Don't make any threats.
  • Don't complain about your company, your job or your workload. Complaints should be framed in a different and more polite manner.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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