Negotiating your salary, whether during a late-stage interview for a job or in your annual performance review, is an art as much as it is a necessity.
In our first post in this series, we did a case study of an entrepreneur’s experience with a company who was promoting her without a bump in pay. Her plan to ask for a raise included expressing gratitude to your employer, taking time to make your decision, building a case justifying the raise and never saying a number first.
In this post, we reached out to a wider professional audience and put together three tips on how to negotiate your salary like a pro.
Tip #1: Know Where You Are Relative to the Midpoint Salary
Every job title has a midpoint, or median salary, that reflects what someone doing their job well should be making, said Wayne Strickland, a business consultant and former exec at Hallmark.
In most cases, your managers are not aware of what the median salary is for your position and have calculated your salary based on your initial compensation and subsequent annual raises.
“If you are low to the mid-point that is a perfect way to start the conversation. There are lots of managers that do not know where their people stand relative to the job mid-point. You can make it easy for the manager to give you a larger raise with this information,” Strickland said.
In some cases, you’ll have moved so far past the midpoint that asking for a raise may be too expensive for the company.
If that’s your situation, Strickland says you should ask for a bonus equal to a raise.
“When this happens, and you have had a great year, ask for a one-time bonus to reward your performance. This should equal the amount of the raise you are requesting,” Strickland said. “The bonus might go against their operating budget but not their salary planning budget. This is a little salary planning razzle dazzle but an effective way to get paid more for great results.”
Tip #2: Women, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You’re Worth
Amy Matthews, a career and business consultant and founder of WomanUnruled, said she has noticed a recurring theme with professional women and salary negotiations: a fear of asking for what you.
“Why is it difficult for a woman to ask for what she wants? I think most women, while growing up, aren’t taught to embrace their self-worth, especially in a professional, career sense, like men are taught,” Matthews said. “Women feel apprehensive about negotiating because they don’t want to be seen as aggressive.”
If you find yourself in this position, take an intentional approach in which you make a case for why you deserve a raise. The better prepared you are, the better your chances for success.
“You just need to try. It may be uncomfortable or even scary the first time you negotiate and ask for your value. If you get an answer that is less than optimal, pause,” Matthews said. “Perhaps, propose a creative solution that can work for you AND your soon-to-be employer. Once you understand the art of it and start getting the results you want, it will be smooth sailing ahead.”
Tip #3: Keep Management Aware of Your Accomplishments
One of the errors many employees make is that they don’t do a good job of showing senior management that they’re earning the praise of their direct managers.
Dee Bowden, a consultant with BCS Solutions, says she successfully asked for a $10,000 raise by combining this strategy along with making a strong case for how she contributed to the company’s success.
She also did research on her own to find out what someone in her position should be paid, using Salary.com as a source.
“I worked diligently to take on large complex projects, deliver tangible results and contribute to the overall success of the team and stayed focused on the mission. I focused on providing excellent customer service to the government client,” she said. “When complimented for the good work I did, I shared those emails with Senior Management and HR.”
Once the research was finished, she requested a meeting with the company’s VP and laid out all the data regarding her specific contributions to the company.
Because she’d been forwarding to upper management the emails she was getting from her managers, the VP was already aware that she was doing good work and provided a frame of reference for Bowden’s successful salary negotiation.