A recent survey of employees at major companies in the U.S. found that 64% of respondents would choose to continue working from home indefinitely over a $30,000 pay increase. This is just one of the many signs of changing preferences among employees and employers alike in the workplace, but one thing has remained the same before, during, and after the pandemic: negotiating a raise at work is still pretty nerve-wracking for many employees.
For employees who are content with their employer but want to make more money in their current role, asking for a raise may seem like an intimidating process with the risk of rejection on the line. Talking about money in personal or professional relationships is still viewed as awkward, stressful, and/or overwhelming, but not asking and negotiating a raise can do more long-term damage to your financial stability than if you focus your energy on developing a raise proposal and presenting it to your manager.
Negotiating a Raise at Work
If the thought of asking for a raise at work makes you feel nervous or you simply feel unprepared to propose the idea, then try out these strategies for negotiating a higher salary for maximum chances of success:
Research Your Market Value
First of all, how much are other people in similar positions with similar levels of knowledge and experience as you making in their jobs? In other words, what’s the market value of your position, given your other attributes such as educational background, professional development, years of experience in the role, notable achievements, and more? Understanding your market value is key when negotiating a raise.
Websites like Glassdoor and PayScale are some of the best resources for researching job metrics like average salaries and other relevant compensation data. Be sure to focus solely on salaries within your job industry/position – it’ll hurt your credibility if you inflate the market value based on higher positions’ pay ranges – and identify at least a couple sources to reference in your raise negotiation phase to ensure you have the most accurate, comprehensive information available on your true market value.
Time Your Request Appropriately
Beware of making raise requests in the middle of a low-growth business cycle or when the company is financially struggling. You have to understand the full picture when negotiating a raise.
Not having enough money to cover an increase in salary is often cited as the primary reason for an employer denying their employee’s proposal for a raise, and it may reflect poorly on you if your request comes during a time of financial upheaval.
Ask for More Than What You Think You’re Worth
One of the biggest mistakes employees make is not asking for enough or letting their employer take the wheel during the negotiation process and haggle down to save the company money. Since this is a negotiation, you likely won’t get the first figure you propose, which is why it’s critical to start off by asking for more than what you think you deserve when negotiating a raise.
This way, you can create a buffer for yourself to accept a lower offer and still meet your salary expectations (though who knows? Maybe your employer will accept the first amount proposed and you’ll end up with a higher raise than you anticipated!).
Practice Your Pitch
The raise proposal should ideally be done in-person (or over video conferencing), which means you’ll need to prepare your pitch in advance when negotiating a raise to give yourself the most confident delivery possible when it comes time to actually talk to your manager about it.
Although it may feel awkward to do this, recording yourself and/or practicing in front of a mirror can help you strengthen your vocal confidence, minimize hesitation, and adapt your body language and facial expressions to the context in ways that show you’re serious about wanting a raise and you’re well-prepared to explain why you deserve it.
Be Firm and Specific
People get wishy-washy when talking about money and negotiating a raise. While it’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable when asking for more money, it’s imperative that you don’t back down from your raise proposal if you genuinely believe you’re making less than your market value and/or you’re generating enough revenue for the company to justify a higher income for yourself.
During the raise negotiation process, you should be firm about your desired salary figure (not a range, since most employers will opt for the low end every time) and specify why you deserve a raise. The number of years with the company is a good start, but it’s not enough.
You need to not only demonstrate what value you’ve already produced for the company but also what value you have to offer in the present moment and in the years to come. Quantifiable achievements are helpful for proving your worth as an employee, but you should include other qualities as well (e.g., professional development opportunities you’ve participated in, clients you’ve brought to the company or significantly supported in your role, etc.).
Consider Other Perks
If your employer can’t or won’t offer a raise for whatever reason, that doesn’t need to be the end of it. If more money isn’t feasible, then what could you ask for instead? This can be key to negotiating a raise. Flexible work options like a hybrid schedule of commuting to the office and working from home each week? More paid time off? A better office or computer equipment?
While most of these are short-term solutions (since making more money throughout your career is the primary goal), you should nevertheless ask for what other options exist if you’re denied a raise before sending your resume to other employers who may be able and willing to offer more than your current employer.
Asking for a raise can be intimidating, but preparation is essential for increasing your chances of success. By researching your market value, timing your proposal, and delivering it in a confident, firm manner, you’ll be in a much better position to persuade your employer to boost your salary than if you never ask or go about it too impulsively.