Leading up to Salary Negotiation Week, we surveyed more than 1,000 people on several different topics related to salary negotiation. We had readers answer some questions regarding their experiences asking for raises, and what they're afraid of when it comes to negotiating salary. Here is input from an actual Salary.com reader, and our subsequent advice.
Job Title:Sales Manager City: Mechanicsburg State: PA Current Salary: $71,600 Last Raise: 5/2005 Company Size: 22
What is motivating you to ask for a raise? "My responsibilities have increased." What concerns you about asking for a raise? "That I may not be successful and that I may lose my job."
Dear Mechanicsburg, Your response really caught our eye for the sheer length of time since your last raise. It’s been more than eight years without even a market adjustment or merit increase. We can certainly understand the recession hit a few years after your 2005 increase and perhaps that stopped any future attempts to negotiate, or your company’s ability to increase your pay. But, it’s 2013. In 2012 only 10 percent of companies reported still being on a salary freeze—it’s time to think negotiation again.
Personal Research: We always suggest starting with research about you and your company. Let’s start with you first. After using our Salary Wizard and making a few assumptions about your experience, the data tells us with more than 10 years experience in your location, it’s time to negotiate a much higher salary. To get started, the “Sales Manager II” job title in our database seems to fit best. For your location and company size, your salary could range from $106,634-$117,722. Since you are currently at $71,600, you could ask for the $106,634 base potential. However, you’re looking at an almost 50 percent increase. It’s rare to receive an increase of more than 10 percent unless you are receiving a promotion or perhaps relocating. But your case is unique as it would be considered a market or equity adjustment—bringing someone’s pay up to fair market value. Before you ask for such an extreme increase, have your talking points ready to show how your contributions and performance have helped improve your company.
Research your company: Doing the research about you is half the battle. Next, you really need to understand your company. What did 2012 look like? How was Q1 and Q2 performance? Your company should be open about business performance, if not sharing the exact numbers, at least giving indicators that revenues are steady, up or down. And because of your Sales Manager role, you may already have that information. If the company is not meeting revenue goals, your salary request will most likely fall on deaf ears. And, because you work for a small company, keep in mind that such a hefty one-time increase may be out of the question. Remember, if you really enjoy the company; consider other items to negotiate, like equity or a goal-based bonus.
Fear of Being Fired: The final order of business is tackling your fear of being fired for even asking for a raise. You are certainly not alone. In our annual “Do you negotiate survey?” 21 percent of people list “being fired” as the reason they don’t negotiate or ask for a raise. And, of those that sent in similar “Should I Even Ask?” inquiries, more than 60 percent listed “being fired” or “just being rejected” as reasons why they don’t want to ask. Here’s the good news. We surveyed managers and HR professionals and 0 percent of them have ever fired or demoted someone specifically because they asked for a raise. Additionally, we asked our readers if they had ever been fired or demoted because they asked for a raise—95 percent of them answered “No.” So, while asking for a raise and salary negotiations can feel uncomfortable, remember that understanding your fair compensation empowers you to be your own advocate and achieve success both personally and professionally. In fact, 84 percent of employers expect a candidate or employees to negotiate their salary.
You can only arm yourself with data, facts and honesty around your job and company performance. Lay out your case rationally, ask for the raise and be prepared to negotiate and answer questions. While we certainly can never promise the outcome you hope for or tell you what to do we can, at least, give you salary-related advice to empower you to understand the value of what you do. Good luck!
Do you have an upcoming salary negotiation? If so, be sure to check out these important tools: