4 Simple Steps to Getting the Raise You Deserve

Want a foolproof way to strike horror into the heart of any respectable professional this Halloween? Whisper the words “negotiate a raise” into the ear of even the best executives and managers, and they will run away shrieking.

Negotiating a better salary is so scary that 18% of job seekers don’t do it during the interview process and 44% of the workforce does not ever negotiate for a raise (Salary.com). This is a staggering and disturbing statistic because as a former executive recruiter, I know that companies expect you to negotiate from the beginning of your employment and throughout your career.

Avoiding negotiation can cost you thousands, even hundreds of thousands over time. Salary.com estimates that an individual who fails to negotiate during an interview can be missing out on more than $500,000 by age 60. That sum is too big to be ignored. Even if you are not in sales or biz dev, sharp negotiation skills must be in your toolkit for professional advancement.

While these stats are definitely shocking, I completely understand why so many people are not negotiating a raise as often as they’d like. The biggest reason: fear. It’s counter-cultural to ask for what you want and professionals are terrified to hear the word “no” because it somehow feels shameful, as if asking was a big mistake.

Many of my new clients say they haven’t tried to negotiate a raise because they simply lack the skills to broker for themselves. I help them quickly gain sharp negotiation skills for this difficult conversation.

Other reluctant negotiators say that they lack self-confidence, or that asking for a raise feels awkward and uncomfortable. I appreciate that it can feel awkward, but if you put some thought and effort into it ahead of time, and come equipped with right mindset and right information, it can feel more like a simple conversation rather than a do-or-die situation. Finding the right career coach to help you prepare for the negotiation can help you put your mind at ease and increase your chances of success through negotiation skill-building and role play.

I’ll show you how to make a rock-solid case for a raise so you and your boss can have a productive and positive conversation about your worth. Here is what you need to know to negotiate a better salary:

1. Believe in yourself. Begin the negotiation with the mindset that you deserve a higher salary and you are more likely to get it. If you don’t have that confidence you may be easily discouraged and dissuaded if your boss brings up counterpoints (which s/he may do – it is a negotiation after all). Women are especially susceptible here; they tend to be apologetic, which makes them lose credibility. There is no place for this behavior in a negotiation. You must fully get behind your cause to be successful (here’s an article in Psychology Today about setting high expectations for yourself and achieving them). For many people, this is the most difficult part of the negotiation. They fail to purposely boost their self-esteem around this topic because they don’t think it’s important, when actually it is essential to your negotiating success.

Need a quick pep talk before the meeting? Here are my favorite TED Talks that will boost your confidence.

2. Prove that you are a rock star. Confidence in your job performance comes more easily when you can point to specific examples of how you have helped your firm. What have you done that is above and beyond your current job description? Where did you take on extra responsibility for the betterment of a project, your department, or your company? When did you produce results above and beyond expectations? Make a list. Write down as many examples as you can with a short description to refresh your memory. Your boss may need a refresher too. Mentioning these accomplishments allows you to remind your manager of your contributions so you can fairly discuss what you’ve done and why you deserve a raise.

3. Know your worth in the marketplace. Doing some in-depth research about what’s going on in your industry and in your geographic location will greatly help your cause. Websites like Glassdoor.com, salary.com, payscale.com will will give you a salary range that can help inform your decision about how much you should be earning. Each of these sites have slightly different criteria and algorithms; use them all to get a good idea of what’s reasonable and where you think you should land. The average pay raise in 2017 is expected to be about 3 percent, according to Investopedia.com, but if you haven’t had an increase in a while, ask for more to get into the right range of salary for your industry.

4. Discuss you and only you. When touting your accomplishments and highlighting your contributions, it’s best to keep a sharp focus on you. Nothing tarnishes a wonderful track record like a bad attitude. In salary negotiations it’s tempting to give into complaining or comparing, but be careful. Most of the time you don’t know the full story (e.g., maybe the other party was there longer, was hired under a different compensation plan, etc.) and most likely your boss does. Any negative comments about others will only come back to hurt you. Keep the conversation focused on you and you’ll come out ahead.

Know that you are doing yourself a great favor by negotiating a raise, even though it may be uncomfortable the first few times you do it. The biggest mistake you can make is not negotiating at all. If you say “yes” to advocating for yourself, you are committing to being the best professional you can be and the right company is sure to reward that.


Julia is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach, and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach based in the Bay Area. She helps career-focused professionals showcase their unique abilities and talents in order to amplify their presence in their chosen fields and when re-entering the job market. Julia uses her extensive leadership experience in executive management, business development, team building and recruiting to help her clients have the career they always wanted. Learn more about Julia at www.JuliaHolian.com, www.LinkedIn.com/in/JuliaHolian, https://Twitter.com/JuliaHolian (@JuliaHolian)  and www.Facebook.com/JuliaHolian.


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