How to Have the Conversation
Negotiating a raise can be uncomfortable for both employee and supervisor, but it’s the only way to keep progressing in your career. A good company has a yearly evaluation system set up, where employees have the opportunity to point out their merits and defend any mistakes. With a few simple steps and general preparedness, negotiating a raise doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth.
Showcase Your Accomplishments
Obviously, you have to first want a raise and feel like you deserve one. Keep a record throughout the year of all your accomplishments and any time you took on additional work or stayed long hours to complete a project. This record could include emails, notes, calendar items or other paperwork — whatever explicitly shows your employer you went the extra mile. Of course the work should speak for itself, but often it doesn’t in a larger company where much is expected of you.
If your employer does have an evaluation system process, either bi-yearly or yearly, take advantage of it as much as you can. This is a chance for you to make your case and get feedback for your work during the year. Be prepared to play show and tell and remind your supervisor of all you did for the company.
Evaluations also typically have a section where you can write your goal for the next year and what you hope to learn and accomplish. Make sure you stick to yours so when your evaluation comes up you can proudly show that you met or even exceeded that goal.
If your employer is one of the 27 percent that doesn’t do employee evaluations, remember timing is everything. Be aware of how your company is doing financially and whether any major events may overshadow your request for a raise. If they just landed a major client, it may be time to ask for a raise. However, don’t spring it on your boss the very next day or you may come across as greedy.
It’s also important to know your supervisor’s schedule and make an appointment to discuss your raise. If your supervisor is juggling a lot of extra work at the moment, the last thing they’re going to want to worry about is getting you more money. Timing within their world is equally important to that of the company’s. Be aware of their personal situation as well, and avoid asking if they seem extra stressed.
Research, Research, Research
As you plan for your meeting, do your homework. Research industry norms and standards of salary increase within your field. If you have a mentor, consult with them first before making your case to your supervisor. They may have valuable insight on what to say or how to say it that comes from years of effective experience.
Knowing what to say is equally important to showcasing your accomplishments. Bringing up personal reasons for needing a raise is just going to garner a big fat “no.”
Employers do not base salary increases on an individual’s financial situation. That’s not why they hired you and pointing it out may seem like a weakness. Instead, focus on expressing what you did for the company and how you helped improve some aspect of their operations.
Within your negotiations, emphasize your value, especially if you contributed to more sales, landing a major client, or if you do twice the work of an ordinary employee. Show your progress and growth within the company, but be sure to bring the conversation back to how you’ve helped the company and what your plans for additional improvement are.
A Word of Caution
One thing to avoid when negotiating a raise is a take-it-or-leave-it mentality. If you have contributed a lot of value to the company, it will become obvious to your employer that they could potentially lose you if they can’t provide what you asked for.
However, don’t threaten to quit if you can’t come to an agreement. Let the discussion settle in their mind first and give it a few weeks. If your company has consistently turned down your raise requests, it may be time to consider looking elsewhere. If your work is not appreciated or valued by an employer, they’re not going to support your growth within their company either. Take the time to lick your wounds and figure out your next move.
Keep in mind how you present yourself in the negotiation can also color your employer’s perception of you. It’s important to stay calm and maintain a pleasant demeanor.
Active listening is also key to understanding their side of the equation and being prepared to counter their response. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and what you want. Oftentimes, that is exactly what a supervisor will be looking for in an evaluation. Knowing your own worth is the key to getting others to see it too.