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10 Tips for Negotiating a Raise

written by: Andrea Campbell•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 5/18/2011

Whether you are quaking in your boots about asking for a raise or think you can go in there and wing-it, this article has the insight you need before you knock on the boss’s door. Find out how to do the research, evaluate your worth, and negotiate a raise without sacrificing your position.

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    #1. Take The Company's Pulse

    240px-Risky Business #1. Take The Company's Pulse. It’s good to be working in this economy, especially since the sting of massive layoffs seems to still be looming on the horizon for many firms. Of course if your company is bottom line red, don’t jeopardize your position unless you already have other alternatives lined-up. But if you are a deserving employee and have been with your firm for more than a year, it might be time to visit your manager in order to negotiate a raise. Notice I said, “might be time” to get paid what you’re worth—don’t skip the next few steps in our 10 Tips for Negotiating a Raise because you need to find out what that means.

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    Take It Step-by-Step

    #2. The Deserving Employee or The Dynamo? Before negotiating a raise, find out what you’re worth. Many employees will never take the initiative to find out their true value in the marketplace to obtain the best total compensation package. Don’t be one of them. Go into this with the right mindset: more business, less emotion.

    There are several ways to research this:

    240px-Drafter at work #3. Start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The American government does an excellent job of finding out what wages are in the current market, in addition to publishing the earnings and benefits of workers. You can narrow your search to geographic area, by occupation, by industry—such as a teacher or architect—in addition to learning employment cost trends and more—a complete overview of BLS Statistics on Pay and Benefits awaits.

    #4. Check out the want ads in the classifieds. Read the local job descriptions relative to pay: it's the pay for skills ratio.

    #5. Call or visit a job search firm. You can always discuss your position with others knowledgeable about the current field. If you are worried about tapping into the services of a human resource manager, instead: look up current magazine articles that publish compensation surveys.

    #6. Research Your Company's Stats. If your company has suffered its own layoffs, they save money by not paying employees for what they felt was a disposable job. Did this generate more work for those who remained? There may be money or compensation benefits for employees doing double the work, so keep your ear to the ground for news, memos or company missives.

    120px-Chat bubbles.svg #7. Know What You Want. One school of thought is to come to the table with a specific dollar figure for your raise. While it's okay to know ballpark—and aim just a little higher on that—don't shoot yourself in the foot. Know your company’s parameters but don't start adding things up on your calculator. It might be great to get an extra $1500 a month but if that has never happened in the history of the company, you may be dreaming too big. And remember this caveat, the person who speaks first about money and mentions real numbers can be locked in—better to wait and see what might be offered. Try to tease out what the boss thinks is a "normal raise," remember, this is a negotiation.

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    Closing In: Negotiating a Raise

    120px-Business-success #8. Present Your Case. Come to the bargaining table with evidence of your performance in order to negotiate a raise. Don’t think that just because your personal expenses have gone up that that’s an argument—no, it’s what you bring in skills using concrete illustrations that will make sense to the business. For example, if you brought in a big paying client, that’s something. Show documentation related to: sales numbers, innovations that saved the company money, strategies or programs you handled that resulted in new products. Those are viable performance bargaining chips. Less concrete but still valuable contributions may be an “orchid letter” from a happy client, improved customer service or some shiny new idea that panned out.

    #9. Be open to other compensatory options. If money is not in the cards right now, has a company car become available? Maybe you can telecommute sometime during the week? Be open to other possibilities. And stay positive in the tone and nature of your visit. Ultimatums are sure to be unwelcome and what will you do if your boss calls you out?

    Lawrence D. Schwimmer, author of How To Ask For A Raise Without Getting Fired, says that the cost of hiring and training a replacement is probably more than you are asking for.

    #10. Practice Your Pitch. There is a methodology with role-playing your pitch. Not only are you airing things out and deciding what not to say, you can also anticipate problems and prepare answers for them. Some people will advise you to talk about the objections right up front, but why present the other side of the argument? It may just backfire in your face.

    Employ these practices and you will find that the skills to 'negotiate a raise' are not so daunting after all. Good luck!

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    Reference & Resource

    Bureau of Labor Statistics on Pay and Benefits: http://www.bls.gov/bls/wages.htm

    Books:

    Schwimmer, Lawrence D. How To Ask For A Raise Without Getting Fired: And 24 other assertiveness techniques for the office, Harper Row, 1980.

    Image Credits:

    • Chat Bubbles: Wikimedia Commons/Esham, Benjamin D. Esham

    • Drafter at work: Wikimedia Commons/bls.gov

    • Business Success: Wikimedia Commons/ Mozilla Public License Version 2 of the GNU General Public License

    • Risky Business (game):Wikimedia Commons/GNU Free Documentation License