Good & Bad Examples of Salary Negotiations

Real-Life Examples of Negotiation Done Right & Wrong

What Works & What Doesn’t?

Ever wonder what works and what doesn’t regarding salary negotiation and asking for a raise? We asked you, our readers, about your last negotiating experience and it was easy to see what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Here are some real-life examples of salary negotiations along with our advice about what they did right, wrong, and how they could’ve handled things better.

Go Big or Go Home

Date of last raise: 2012
Prior salary research: Yes
Raise request: 35%
Raise received: 22%
User comments: “The main idea is not to focus on you. It’s not about you, it’s about the position and the responsibilities and what is expected of the position. Performance is rewarded on a different scale (regularly low 1-digit merit increases by year). I asked my manager what his appraisal of my performance was, the answer from good to excellent (I know that in advance). Having said that I said “OK, so I’m doing this right now I’d like to ask what you think about this position relative to X, Y, or Z in terms of responsibility and contribution to the company.” Clearly this gave me the ammo to question whether or not my current salary grade was aligned with that position appraisal, so the next step was to agree on commitments, time, follow-ups, etc. I had to also wait and understand that things don’t go forward by the snap of the fingers in the multinational corporation. I did have to follow up once or twice according to what we agreed upon but it came through alright.” says: Great job. This is a perfect example of doing everything right.

You started with research which is key. And although you asked for a pretty hefty sum in a 35% increase, you received a 22% raise because you did things the right way. When asking for a raise of this magnitude, you have to clearly show you’re in need of a market correction, or you’re going far above and beyond the original duties and job responsibilities for your position. Then you negotiated confidently, got your boss on your side by thinking of his needs and putting yourself in his shoes, and followed up until everything was complete. It’s wise not to believe you’d get the entire 35% since that’s asking a lot, but a 22% raise is way above average. Bravo.

Performance is Key

Date of last raise: 2012
Prior salary research: Yes
Raise request: 10%
Raise received: 10%
User comments: “They are perceptive to my rationale based on my performance since I joined the company.” says: Short and sweet. And also correct.

Your focus on performance and performance only is the key here. When asking for a raise you’re essentially convincing your bosses that it’s wise to invest you and that your past high performance is indicative of similar things to come in the future. So show them your positive results and back it up with numbers when possible. Nice job staying on point.

Don’t Get Frustrated & Give Up

Date of last raise: 2013
Prior salary research: Yes
Raise request: 10%
Raise received: 3%
User comments: “I went in with a friendly demeanor and lots of research. I highlighted my successes and big wins over the year and how that benefited the company. I also used and other resources to show that I was below the median income level for my geographic area. I knew I was asking for a lot but I defended my position because I believe I earned it. My boss agreed but said 10% was too much. I ended up with 3% which is nothing more than a merit increase. I’m disappointed.” says: The good news is it sounds like you were prepared and asked for a raise the right way. The bad news is you missed an opportunity when presented with an obstacle.

It’s unfortunate that even though your boss agreed you deserved more money, you didn’t get it. That’s frustrating. But is the extra money too much because your company is having a bad year? Did you do research on your employer’s financials beforehand to see if a 10% increase was even possible? If not, that’s on you.

Also, when the salary increase was denied did you try to negotiate other components of your compensation package? You could’ve asked for flexible scheduling, the ability to work from home, or tried for more vacation time. These things won’t add any zeros to your paycheck, but they cut down on costs and end up leaving more money in your pocket, which is the whole point. Next time don’t get frustrated so easily and try other avenues.

Be Prepared

Date of last raise: 2013
Prior salary research: No
Raise request: 14.5%
Raise received: 7%
User comments: “I asked for a $10,000/year increase and he met me halfway and left it open to bonus at the end of the year. We then purchased a new company and now the load has doubled.” says: So you asked for a 14.5% salary increase — no small sum — but did zero research first? Not a good idea.

What happens if your boss asks you where that figure came from and how you arrived at it? Maybe you had a good reason off the top of your head, maybe not. But using a tool like’s Personal Salary Reportwhich you can reference and show to your boss lends a lot more credibility to your raise request than a number seemingly contrived out of thin air.

The good news is you still received a 7% raise, which is commendable. But since there seems to be a lot of moving parts with the acquisition and most likely changes in management, make sure you get that bonus agreement in writing just in case management changes and no one has a record of anything.

Recognizing a Good Thing

Date of last raise: 2012
Prior salary research: Yes
Raise request: 0%
Raise received: 0%
User comments: “Didn’t ask for an increase as data confirmed I am being paid competitively.” says: Yes, you read that correctly. No, it’s not a typo.

In the working world, finding an employee willing to admit he/she is paid adequately and therefore uninterested in asking for a raise is like spotting a leprechaun riding a unicorn. We included this because it’s a case of an employee taking the initiative to research comparable salaries, which is always a good thing. But when that analysis revealed they were being paid at or above the median, the employee recognized a good deal and didn’t push the issue.

If you deserve a raise you should ask for one and back it up with facts. But if you’re already being paid and treated fairly, it’s perfectly acceptable to take that into consideration and come to the well-researched conclusion that a raise request is unnecessary.

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