People often wonder why professional athletes or movie stars argue over money. They’re already getting paid $20 million, why would they push so hard for $21 million? Do they just really really like to spend money?
Maybe. But it’s called “the bottom line” for a reason. Everyone wants to be paid what they deserve. While you want to work at a job you love, you also want to be with an employer who values your work.
As the job market strengthens, employers are finding it tougher to bring in the kind of employees they want. That means your value is increasing. But how do you have that conversation? It’s best to negotiate when you have a job offer but haven’t agreed to it yet. Still, if you want to stay at your current job and you can demonstrate that you deserve a raise, your employer should be willing to work with you. According to a survey by Salary.com, almost one-fifth of people never negotiate. Don’t be one of them — be sure that you’re compensated for your hard work.
1. It’s not about your personal situation
Avoid asking your employer for more money because your dog’s vet bills are too high or your car broke down.
If you work for a business, they’re not in a position to give you a handout. You need to demonstrate why you’re worth what you’re asking for. Consider what valuable skills you bring that help your company.
2. Do your research
Find out how much other professionals in your field are paid. A simple Internet search should give you at least a ballpark figure.
You can go beyond that by maintaining contacts in your field. If you have good relationships with other professionals, you can ask them how much they’re paid. Gather as much information as you can.
3. Highlight your track record
Demonstrate your value to the company. Have you generated innovative new ideas? Do you have the highest sales in the company? If your employer doesn’t want to lose you, they’ll find a way to increase your pay.
Remember that this shouldn’t be about why your employer should pay you for past work. Instead, it should demonstrate how you’ll help the company in the future.
4. Don’t just think about salary
Your compensation package is more than just your salary. Consider negotiating healthcare benefits, bonuses for performance, or a more robust retirement plan. Your company may have more wiggle room outside of payroll, and these items might be more valuable to you than extra cash.
5. Be willing to accept more responsibility
The heart of negotiation is give and take. Your employer may be willing to part with their money if you’re willing to part with your time. Before you have that difficult meeting, consider how much additional responsibility you want — and how much more compensation it will take for you to accept it. Of course, added responsibility may mean a promotion, which could be a good long-term career move.
6. Prepare for a bit of back and forth
If you’ve been offered a position, employers expect you to decline their first offer and for you to come back with a number considerably higher that they will then reject. This is the standard pattern of negotiation. It’s reasonable to think that you’ll meet in the middle somewhere. Go into negotiations with two specific numbers in your head: How much you’ll ask for and how much you’ll settle for.
7. Be polite but firm
Did you know that there’s a huge gender gap in negotiating salaries? According to a study by Linda Babcock in her book Women Don’t Ask, 57% of men negotiate, but only 7% of women do.
Many people find it rude to ask for more money. But hesitancy to talk about salary doesn’t help you — it only helps your employer. No good business is going to pay you more than makes sense for them. Politely seek what you want and put the onus on your employer to explain why you shouldn’t be paid fairly.
Negotiation is tough. We all lived through the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent years of high unemployment. Many of us feel lucky just to have jobs. But that doesn’t mean you should forego a raise that fits with your position. Ultimately, you and your employer win if you’re happy with compensation and stay with the company longer.
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