At some point, everyone feels like they deserve a salary increase. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t but either way, there’s no harm in presenting the best case possible to try and achieve your pecuniary aspirations.
So what is the best way to tackle what for many, feels like an awkward or difficult conversation?
Know your Worth
This is the first and most absolute rule in negotiating a salary increase. You have to know what you’re worth and be able to prove it to your employer. This means not just relying on superlatives or “I’ve been doing a really good job” – this may be completely true, but in most cases, it’s your job to perform well. So instead, conduct some research and put together a detailed case.
Have a look into what other people in your position across the industry are being paid. Payscale.com is a reasonably accurate site to visit (make sure to adjust the country of origin settings) as is livesalary.com.au (which is more accurate but you will have to provide more information). A lot of job boards will also provide you with data on this to cross reference against.
Never use Threats
Have you ever been threatened? How did that make you feel about the person making the threat? I imagine it wasn’t very good. Having said this, we have read article after article advising people to go to the job market, get another offer and use the threat of you leaving to leverage a higher salary.
This is folly and here’s why.
The nature of a threat is negative and will leave a very bad taste in your boss’ mouth. Even if he / she gives you that higher pay rise the trust you previously had with your employer has been broken and you are unlikely to get that trust back.
Prep your Case
Prepare a case to really hammer home exactly what you mean to the team and the company. This should not just be framed by what you have achieved in the past but also, by what you will achieve in the future.
Past performance is obviously important when proving your worth but most employers will be more impressed by your plans, visions and potential to provide future worth to the company.
Never Start the Numbers Rolling
If you’re in a business where negotiating is part of your daily life, you’ll know that the general rule of thumb in a negotiation is that whoever names the figure first generally loses the negotiation. If the question is asked to you directly (and you can’t deflect it), try to name as narrow a figure as possible around the salary you’re looking for.
Don’t Restrict your Increase to Money
Sometimes, even when you’ve absolutely nailed the negotiation, your boss still won’t be able to give you a salary increase as they are restricted by budget, parity or internal politics or systems. There may however be other, non-monetary options. Maybe you could receive extra annual leave, a car or fuel card, paid educational opportunities, a bonus structure or improvement in percentage, a fortnightly half day off or improved responsibilities. Don’t close your minds to these options.
Silence is Golden
This is not just a phrase that people with a migraine might use towards children – it works brilliantly in negotiation. Once you’ve named your terms, don’t be afraid to wait out the silence. It’s a natural instinct in most people to try and fill the void left by an awkward silence, but often the first to talk is the first to lose. The same goes when you’ve been made an offer, don’t feel compelled to answer straight away.
Be Prepared for a No
Understanding that you might not be successful from the outset is important as it lessens the likelihood of an emotional reaction should the answer be negative. A no now doesn’t necessarily mean a no in the future, so react positively and graciously and keep to any promises made during negotiations (which will probably net a pay rise in the future).