by Emilie Lewis
(First published at Ready. Aim. Hire. Feb, 2016, Columbia College)
Salary negotiations are always tricky: A thin line between respecting your boss and your own value as an employee. With tons of advice and suggestions out there, we’ve narrowed it down to a list of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when asking for a raise.
Time it right: Plan an official meeting with your boss, don’t bring it up in the break room. Try not to schedule a meeting for a busy or stressful week, but don’t broach the subject if your company is in a slow period or slump.
Have a plan: Is your annual review coming up? Save the discussions for then. If not, map out exactly what you’re going to say and how you’re going to bring up the discussions. Practice on a friend so that you come across as confident but not entitled.
Have proof: Just because you’ve been with a company for another year doesn’t mean you deserve a raise. Have you recently taken on greater responsibility? Have you successfully led a project to completion? Keep track of your accomplishments and productivity and approach your boss after a successful performance.
Think about benefits vs. money: Perhaps added benefits can be negotiated in place of a salary raise. Always wanted to attend that training in Hawaii? Maybe this could be an adequate reward for exceeding customer expectations. If your boss shies away at the mention of additional income, there might be a way to add benefits as compensation.
Consider job upgrade vs. pay upgrade: A change in job title might lead to a change in job salary. If you’ve been taking on tasks for co-workers or increasing your productivity to twice the expected rate, you might be eligible for a more prestigious job title, which might make your boss more inclined to increase your salary.
Compare yourself to others in the field: Ultimately a raise is about your value to the company. You need to prove that you’re an asset, one your boss needs to keep. Bring up the average salaries for others in your field and base your raise on your comparison to their output and performance.
Prepare to revisit if a raise isn’t achieved: If now isn’t the right time or your boss hedges on the raise, ask what you need to do in order to earn the extra money. Write down a timeline and specific goals and definitions of success and ask to revisit the idea in a few months.
Compare yourself to co-workers: No matter how unfair it might seem that your co-workers make more than you, don’t compare yourself to others in the office. Stick to your individual value and how you compare to others in the industry.
Get personal: Don’t spring the idea onto your boss and give a list of personal reasons why you need more money. Focus on your job description and how you consistently perform above expectations. Demonstrate the additional hours and effort you put into projects. Your boss doesn’t need to know that you want more money for that Vegas vacation.
Get aggressive or threaten to quit: The desire for a raise generally indicates that you’re looking for something more, don’t tell your boss flat out that you’ll quit if you don’t receive a higher salary. Appreciate that they might not be the ultimate decider and keep your temper in check if they don’t say yes.
Be afraid to move on: That being said, don’t stay with a company that doesn’t appreciate your value and work. If your boss continues to avoid the subject or refuses to make concrete timelines and decisions, consider finding a new company. You shouldn’t enter negotiations with quitting in mind, but respect your value and work and don’t be afraid to ask for adequate compensation.
About Emilie Lewis
After earning a degree in English, Emilie joined the Marketing Department at Columbia College as the Communications Coordinator. Her daily work includes writing copy for brochures, emails, the college’s website and anything else that requires words. Emilie is a voracious reader, a Ravenclaw and the proud owner of a horse named Shadowfax.