Get the Raise You Want

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Do you think you are underpaid for the work you do? Have you recently received a pay raise and been disappointed at the increase amount? Would you like to unload on your boss for undervaluing you? Before you lose your cool and say something you may regret, follow our advice on how to prepare for and conduct a successful salary negotiation.

Step One – Understand Your Role

Make sure you understand your role and responsibilities and how your position contributes to the organization’s success.

You and your employer will need to agree on your job “benchmark and determine what jobs in the marketplace most closely match your position. This means comparing roles and activities, not job titles. Read job definitions carefully to be sure you are comparing truly similar jobs.

Step Two – Agree on Job Value

Understand what the salary norms are for the role that you play in the organization. Remember that salaries for similar jobs can vary due to industry type, geography and company size. Always take these factors into consideration when making a salary assessment.

You and your manager should agree on the market value of your job. Different organizations have different philosophies when it comes to pay. Ask your employer if they pay above, below, or at the market rate for jobs.

Agree on where your salary should fall based on your personal proficiency and performance level. Find out if there are standards in place clarifying where an employee’s salary should fall in the salary range that take length of service, previous experience and performance level into consideration.

Step Three - Record Your Performance

Feeling you deserve a raise isn’t enough to convince your boss to give you one. You need to demonstrate in concrete terms why you feel you deserve a salary increase. The best way to do this is to track your performance over time. Keep notes that provide updates on the projects and tasks you have been assigned. This is your opportunity to show you are a solid performer and, as such, a valuable asset to the company.

Remember that anyone can have one or two examples of good performance; you want to show a consistent record of improvement and solid performance that sets you apart. And don’t worry about others in your work area. This is all about individual performance. It is about your competencies and experience in that job.

Step Four – Approaching Your Boss

Timing is everything and professionalism is a must. Careful preparation prior to the negotiation will increase your chances for success. As you prepare, consider the following:

Don’t approach the boss at a bad time. Be sensitive to your bosses stress levels and workload or your demands will be viewed as an unwelcome distraction. If your company uses a performance appraisal system with an annual review, that is the best time to negotiate pay and benefits.

Play the conversation over in your mind and consider how you will respond if your manager says yes, no, or maybe. Before you meet face to face, decide on a number that you’d be satisfied with and prepare how you will respond if you don’t get what you request.

Step Four – Continued

Specifics matter when it comes to negotiating a raise and having evidence to back up your request – including market data on pay and notes on your past performance - makes you appear more business-like and deserving of a raise.

Be honest, open, and get to the point quickly, showing that you have done your homework. Don’t get too emotional. A good salary negotiation doesn’t rely on emotional outbursts.

Make sure that you follow up appropriately on any verbal promises and, if possible, secure an effective date for your increase. You can also summarize your agreements via email after the meeting.

Step Five - What if it doesn’t go your way?

If all of your preparation does not end with a successful negotiation, it could be a reflection not of you or your performance. Rather, it could reflect corporate factors that are beyond your control.

This is an opportunity to look beyond the paycheck. Although cash is good, be open to other options in lieu of money such as additional time off, an option to telecommute for a portion of the work week, or a compressed or more flexible work schedule. These benefits cost the organization far less than a salary increase, but may provide a reasonable trade off and reward for you as an employee.

Availability of online compensation information like Salary.com's Salary Wizard® improves the quality of salary negotiations by making it possible for employees and employers to start on a level playing field. Employers who are confident in their pay practices should welcome these data sources, as they provide external validation that their compensation is competitive with the market.

Free Salary Wizard®

Personal Salary Report


Related Salary.com Content