How to Negotiate a Raise

You work hard, day after day. You deal with bad customers, tackle hard problems, and even keep your cool when that one person in the office insists on microwaving fish at the break room. You deserve a raise.

Getting a raise these days, though, isn’t easy. Most companies will not offer a raise, even to the hardest workers. If you feel you have a shot, you absolutely should take your chances.

To get a raise, or at least better perks, you will need a little finesse when it comes to the art of negotiation. According to HR reps and experts alike, these tips will teach you how to negotiate a raise with ease.

1. Before you even book an appointment for a meeting, start looking at other companies.

Experts have noted that it’s often more profitable (and likely) for a person to get better pay by leaving the company they worked at than it is to negotiate a raise. By looking at other places that may be willing to hire you, you will be able to figure out if it’s even worth staying where you are. Sometimes, it’s just better to skip trying to negotiate a raise and focus on getting out.

2. Timing is everything!

The easiest way to mess up when trying to get a raise is to time it wrong. Make a point to set a meeting ahead of time, ideally during a moment where the company is doing well or shortly after you saved the day. If you go in during a time when sales just dipped or a layoff happened, you’re not going to get the raise you want.

3. Don’t go in unprepared, and know what you’re going to say.

You don’t want the negotiation to be a presentation, but you should have some facts at hand. For example, if you’re being paid way below what would be standard for your position, you need to know that. Having a list of accomplishments at work also can help tremendously when it comes to explaining why you should get that raise.

4. Avoid yes and no questions.

Single-word questions easily can lead to a boss shutting down the dialogue. So, avoid them unless you really are trying to make a point.

5. Be professional about your approach.

Ask for a specific meeting and schedule an appointment. Look professional, and discuss the matter in a clear, concise manner. At the very least, this will show your managers that you are a professional who understands what they’re doing and how to carry themselves.

6. Find out what your boss wants to accomplish, and explain how a higher raise would help you do it.

Managers want solutions, not problems. Frame a raise in the form of a solution, and they will be much more prone to giving you one.

7. Don’t focus on closing the deal or get needy about it.

One of the worst mistakes people do is focus on trying to close the deal. Managers and HR reps get that needy vibe immediately and quickly get put on the defensive. A better way to open a dialogue would be to tell them that they don’t have to say yes and that they are free to say no. This makes them feel more at ease and is more likely to get them thinking about the raise.

8. Above all, don’t get emotional over the negotiation.

The key to knowing how to negotiate a raise is knowing how to keep your cool. If you get overly emotional, it’s almost guaranteed that they will not give you a raise. Worse, they may even start wondering if you’re actually fit to work there. Besides, it’ll make things awkward.

9. Make it clear that your job is NOT the problem.

The easiest way to botch a salary negotiation is to make it sound like you really don’t want to work there. If you come at human resources staff members telling them all the problems that come with your job, they will not want to give you a raise. Rather, they’ll probably ask why you’re still there.

10. Come up with an exact number.

Exact numbers show that you’ve put thought into this endeavor—and studies show HR reps are more likely to agree to exact number raise requests, too. So, instead of $46,000, try for $46,750.

11. Some might also suggest the "Briefcase Technique."

This technique is one that involves making a short document showing how you could solve company pain points if you got a raise. Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You to be Rich fame was the one to come up with this one. From what we’ve heard, it works.

12. If they refuse to offer money, ask for another corporate perk instead.

Perks matter! This is a good way to get a cushier lifestyle while you’re on the clock, and also gives managers a way to meet you halfway. It’s a win-win for everyone.

13. Do not make an ultimatum; if you have to, just walk.

Ultimatums are a great way to get what you want now and get fired later. Or, worse, they will just get you fired, period.

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