Negotiating a raise is one of the most important skills you will need in your career. Doing it well requires confidence in the value you provide to your company as well as professionalism to negotiate with your employer effectively. In this article, we explain the steps you can take to negotiate a raise and provide a few tips for how to handle the response, whether it's positive or negative.
When is the right time to ask for a raise?
Before you prepare for a raise negotiation, you should decide whether this is the ideal time to be asking for a raise in the first place. Here are a few signs that it is the right time to ask for a raise:
- You have been there for at least six months (but preferably a year or more).
- There isn't already a performance review coming up or a raise schedule in place.
- The company is doing well financially.
- You've recently taken on more responsibility or even a new position.
7 steps to negotiate a raise
Following these steps will help you prepare for your raise negotiation meeting with your employer:
- Research salary data for your position.
- Consider how your company is doing.
- Reflect on what you have achieved in this role.
- Decide on your target range for the raise.
- Prepare your presentation.
- Practice negotiating with friends or family.
- Schedule your meeting.
1. Research salary data for your position
Before you ask for a raise, you should know what a normal salary range looks like for your position and your level of experience. If you are comfortable doing so, you could ask other people in your company who are in similar positions or have a similar amount of experience what they make. You can also do research online to figure out what the average salary is for your job and location. It is important to make sure that the raise you ask for is within range of what people with your job and experience are making.
2. Consider how your company is doing
Familiarize yourself with your company's financials and performance over the last few quarters to get a sense of whether or not they are growing. A company that is experiencing a period of stagnation or decline may not be in a position to offer raises. This research will also guide the actual negotiation process. For example, if your company is growing, but the growth has slowed, you might consider aiming for a lower raise than you would ask for if they were growing more quickly.
3. Reflect on what you have achieved in this role
The best way to convince your employer you deserve a raise is to bring up your specific accomplishments that helped the company achieve its goals. You want to demonstrate that the value you bring to the team is worth the increased salary. If you have been asked to take on additional responsibilities or roles in the company, this is also a good time to ask for a raise to accompany that extra work.
4. Decide on your target range for the raise
Convincing your employer that you deserve the raise is only the beginning. You also need to be prepared to negotiate the actual amount of that raise, which means that you need to set an appropriate range.
Your range should start with the lowest amount you would be happy with and end with the highest amount you think is reasonable to ask for, based on your research. If your employer agrees to give you a raise, you will reference this range as you negotiate the price.
In addition to a range of salary amounts, identify some other benefits you might be willing to accept instead of a raise or in combination with a smaller raise than you originally wanted. Sometimes, employers might be reluctant to increase your salary but still willing to offer you other benefits in return for your great work. Other benefits you might consider include:
- Additional paid time off
- More flexibility in your schedule
- Stock options
- Remote workdays
Having a list of alternative benefits will also be useful if your employer rejects your request for a raise. You may not walk away from the meeting with a raise, but you might still be able to get some additional perks.
5. Prepare your presentation
When you walk into the meeting, you want to be ready with a convincing narrative about why you deserve to get this raise. As mentioned above, you want to tie that to specific accomplishments as much as possible. To keep your arguments organized, it is helpful to structure all of your points in the form of a presentation or sales pitch.
However, you don't want to actually come into the meeting with a presentation. You can bring notes with you to refer to, but in general, try to keep it more like a conversation than an actual presentation. Begin with an opening statement where you describe what you are asking for and why you deserve it in two or three sentences. Then, be prepared to respond to questions and counterarguments.
6. Practice negotiating with friends or family
Once you know the most important points you want to discuss with your employer as well as the amount you want to ask for, ask a friend or family member to practice the negotiation with you ahead of time. If possible, pick someone who either has some experience asking for a raise or is in a management position themselves so that they can provide constructive feedback about how you're doing and what you could do differently.
7. Schedule your meeting
Timing is extremely important when asking for a raise. This refers to the time of the year, day of the week and time of the day. Here's how to choose the right timing in each category:
Time of the year
Generally, you want to ask for a raise when your company is doing well financially. It may also be ideal to ask shortly after you have completed a major project or accomplishment.
Day of the week
Aim for a date earlier in the week. Tuesday or Wednesday are the most preferable. On Monday, your employer will probably be preoccupied with projects that weren't finished the week before as well as all the work that needs to be completed in the week ahead. At the end of the week, in comparison, everyone will probably be eager for the weekend, so it is best to ask earlier when there are fewer distractions.
Time of the day
Ideally, schedule your meeting for 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. This is early enough in the day that your employer is not yet fatigued by work but late enough that they have had their coffee, settled in and likely dealt with any pressing issues that they were concerned about that morning.
Getting the timing right allows you to negotiate while your employer is in the best possible mood. This will improve your chances of getting a yes and receiving the amount you were hoping for.
How to respond when they say yes
Even when employers agree to give you a raise, they may not offer you the amount you originally wanted. In this scenario, you need to be ready to negotiate the actual number. While some people might feel intimidated by the idea of discussing exact dollar amounts with their employers, it is a perfectly normal process, and your employer will most likely expect you to negotiate with them. Here are a few tips to make sure you walk out with a raise you are happy with:
Start with a higher figure
Most likely, your employer will ask you how much of a raise you would like. This is the start of your negotiation. Begin with a figure that is higher than your target amount. This should not be an outlandishly high number, but you should choose a number at the higher end of the range that you calculated when you were preparing for this meeting.
Balance persistence and flexibility
This can be challenging, but it is important to find a balance between being determined to get a raise that reflects your worth and being flexible enough to come down to an amount your employer is comfortable with. One way to do this by negotiating in smaller increments.
Establish a timeline
If your employer says that they would offer you a raise but there isn't room for it in the budget, work with them to establish a timeline for when the raise can occur. It is important to get a fixed date. You might consider tying it to specific goals or achievements on your part. For example, you might get the raise once you have increased revenue or cut costs by a certain percentage within a specific timeline.
How to respond when they say no
If your employer rejects your raise request, it is important to handle the rejection well to maintain an amicable relationship. You also want to handle it well because there is still the option to ask for some alternative benefits in place of the raise. Here are a few tips for ending a raise negotiation that didn't go the way you had hoped:
Ask for alternative benefits
If your employer rejected the raise but still seemed receptive to your overall argument about the value you bring to the company, you might be able to ask for the other benefits you listed in your preparation phase. You will have to use your best judgment here to decide if this is an appropriate step.
Thank them for their time
Leave the meeting on a positive note. Even if you are considering finding a new job now that you know you aren't getting a raise, you still want to stay on good terms with your current employer. Be professional and polite throughout the entire conversation.
Being professional and polite is important, but it doesn't mean you need to apologize for asking for the raise. You did not waste their time, and you did not overstep your bounds. Asking for a raise, even when you don't get it, is a good way to demonstrate that you recognize your worth. While it is important to be calm and understanding when things don't go your way, you should walk out of that meeting with confidence. If you apologize, you're suggesting to the employer that asking for a raise was a mistake, which will work against you when you prepare to ask again.
Ask for feedback
If an employer rejects a raise request, they have a reason for it. Getting feedback about why they said no can help you determine what your next steps should be to make sure that you get a positive response in the future. Remember that asking for feedback is not a time to argue or dispute their reasoning. This is the time for you to listen, take notes and prepare to move forward.