If you’re looking to increase your income, negotiating your salary at your next job or asking for a raise at your current job can be a solid option.
Last year, CNBC referenced a Jobvite study that indicated only 29 percent of job seekers negotiated their salary at their current or most recent job. That same study revealed that 84% of the people who felt confident enough to negotiate a raise succeeded in getting one.
According to Monster, it’s estimated that failing to negotiate your salary can result in leaving around $1 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime of your career.
Clearly, it makes more sense from a financial standpoint to negotiate your salary and ask for raises where appropriate even though it can be uncomfortable at first.
Just think about all you could do with a larger income. Could you pay off your debt faster? Save and invest more money? Finally fund a side business venture in cash?
So how do you negotiate wisely and secure the pay increase you want and deserve without rubbing your employer the wrong way?
Whether you’ve taken a stab at negotiating in the past or not, these steps are crucial to take in order to secure your success.
1. Set Up a Meeting With the Right Person
Your first step to negotiating a higher salary is to set up a meeting with the right person to discuss your request.
If you are asking for a raise, you may already know how to approach to discuss the matter. If you’re in the process of landing a new job, you must make sure you’re discussing the topic with someone who actually has control and influence over what your rate of pay is.
For example, some companies leave the decision up to the human resources department while with other small businesses, you may be able to speak directly to the boss or hiring manager.
It’s best to initiate the salary negotiation process after you’ve received a written offer letter. That way, you have more leverage since other candidates are out of the question for the time being. You can take advantage of the opportunity by requesting to go over the offer with a manager or someone in human resources.
2. Do Your Research
Next, you’ll want to do tons of research on the job market for your career field. Instead of coming up with a random number when you’re meeting with the recruiter or hiring manager, you want to take the time to research your field and see what others are earning based on experience and credentials.
Review sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and Salary.com to see what the median and high-level salaries are for your particular position. If you know someone at the company, you could also try discussing what their starting salary was to give you some extra insight.
Glassdoor has a free salary estimate tool you can use to determine if you’re being paid fairly. The tool allows you to see your market worth in seconds with a personalized salary calculator and your results remain private. Plus, Glassdoor recommends ways to increase your pay if you find that you’re being paid less than the average market rate.
3. Consider Your Skills
As you do your salary research, consider the skills and credentials you have. Do you offer any additional skills than what is mentioned in the job description?
If you’ve been in a particular field for years, you probably have learned new skills during that time which can be leveraged when negotiating your salary.
Let’s say you majored in communications and landed a job at a marketing firm in Chicago as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist. You work there for two years then decide to move on and explore other job opportunities. The median salary for someone in your field working in Chicago is $60,382/yr which is 7% higher than the national average according to Glassdoor.
Say during your time at the marketing firm you got Google Adwords Certified. That credential could help you negotiate a higher salary at your next job since you’re coming to the table with more marketable skills and an in-demand certification.
4. Gas Yourself Up
In order to properly negotiate a higher salary, you need to be confident and feel you truly deserve a higher income. ‘Gassing yourself up’ is a casual phrase that refers to inflating someone’s ego via compliments, praise, or actions. In order words, it means to build someone up and inflate their confidence.
You need to do this to yourself before you start talking about increasing your pay with a current or new employer.
According to Salary.com, most people fail to negotiate due to fear and lack of skills. Their studies have indicated that more men negotiate their salary than women, but overall, 32 percent of survey respondents said they were too worried about losing the job offer if they tried to negotiate while 22 percent claimed they didn’t ask because they feared they lacked enough skills to justify requesting a pay increase.
Finally, 18 percent said they found negotiating to be inherently unpleasant while 9 percent lacked the necessary self-confidence, so they avoided it altogether.
This site goes on to say that experts have concluded most companies actually expect you to negotiate your salary, but if you don’t have the confidence, it’s not going to happen.
If you’ve already received an offer letter, it’s clear that the employer believes you have the skill level and experience necessary to succeed at the position. If you are still applying or looking to secure a raise at your current job during your annual review, then change your mindset to view an income increase as a solid option and goal for the future.
Give yourself permission to earn more and acknowledge all the hard work you’ve done thus far along with the experience you’ve accumulated. Do you have a degree or certification? How do you make your employer’s life easier? What type of results have you been able to accomplish over the years? Are you a great team player?
Make a list of all your skills and assets to boost your confidence so you can realize that negotiating your salary is more than justifiable.
However, on the flip side, don’t let your ego go to your head and be gracious and understanding during the negotiation process.
5. Leverage Your Annual Review/ Come to the Table With Proof
If you’re looking to secure a raise at your job, negotiating a pay increase during your annual review is the perfect time to take action.
During your annual or semi-annual review, your employer will already be assessing your progress on the job and considering a pay increase for you. Most companies also receive a new budget at the beginning of the year which could be good or bad depending on if they need to make any cuts at all.
During your annual review, make sure you’re equipped with research, proof, and examples of past performance, as well as an idea of the salary increase you’d like to see.
You may even want to build a portfolio of your work or simply discuss your assets and ways you’ve been able to excel during the past year. Maybe you’ve hit your bonuses for several months in a row or successfully trained a few new employees.
If you’re interested in any advancement opportunities, this would also be a good time to pitch yourself for the job after carefully reviewing the role and responsibilities.
Communicating the value you add to the team should always come before the money talk.
6. Find Comfort in the Awkward Silence
You may or may not have heard of the awkward silence technique which is one of the more common salary negotiation tips.
When you receive an offer, you don’t have to accept it right then and there. A job offer itself is a big deal, and when it comes to your salary and other benefits, you’ll need time to think about it and discuss it with your partner or other colleagues.
Before saying anything, take some time to carefully review it and perform the necessary research mentioned above. You need time to review your base salary, annual bonus, incentives, benefits, etc.
Set a deadline for your response to the employer and stick to it. You can also consider asking questions like: “How flexible is this offer?” to communicate in a non-confrontational way that you may be interested in negotiation.
7. Consider Using a Specific Negotiation Strategy
Finally, consider taking a lesson from the pros and using proven negotiation strategies when trying to increase your earnings. There are tons of experts out there who have coined negotiation methods, and you can try them when you receive your next offer letter.
For example, Noel Smith-Wenkle, an experienced salary negotiator during the 1980s, came up with a method to help himself and clients get as much money as possible during salary negotiations.
According to his method, you must never tell the employer how much you want to make. This means when they ask the question on the job application, leave it blank and allow the company to name the first number.
His method involves responding to questions about your desired salary with stalling techniques. For example, you might say something like: “I’ll consider any reasonable offer,” or “You are in a much better position to know the market rate and my value in this industry” in order to get them to make the first move.
Another method you can use is from Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute.
His method proposes that you also postpone salary negotiations until you are offered the job. Next, when you hear the offer, repeat it then don’t say anything. Jack refers to this tactic as “the flinch” and says it often leads to a pay raise from the initial offer.
Your next step is to come back with a well-researched counter offer, then negotiate other benefits and propose add-ons.
Negotiating your salary is not a task everyone looks forward to, but it’s a must if you want to ensure that you’re getting paid what you’re worth at your current or next job. When done correctly, you can earn much more over the life of your career and have better employee benefits overall. Use these tips to help you negotiate smarter and feel more confident with your salary.