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Salary Negotiating 101: Making your pitch for a raise

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in Career Management,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Salary Negotiating,Workplace Communication

Think you deserve a raise, but are afraid to walk into your boss’s office and ask? Don’t let ineffective negotiation skills hold you back.

Know how to negotiate your pay from a position of strength, armed with documentation of your accomplishments, your value to your organization and market research on salary comparisons in your industry. Here are four pointers on how to ask for a raise—and what to do if the boss says no.


1. Do your homework first


Make sure you can document some tangible work-related reasons that warrant a raise, and give a realistic picture of ways your work will continue to benefit the organization.


Also, know where you stand in the marketplace. Analyze salary surveys of your industry in your geographic area, and contact trade groups or professional associations for the latest employment trends and salary data. Tip: You’ll find a list of some of the best online salary surveys in Salary Negotiating 101, a special report from Business Management Daily.


2. Be aware of salary and raise ceilings


Perhaps your organization has implemented a salary freeze or imposed a maximum percentage for any annual increase. If so, know what those figures are before you approach your boss to ask for a raise.


If you can demonstrate that you have taken on many new duties and enjoy a good working relationship with your boss, he or she may be willing to argue with upper management that you deserve a raise exceeding your organization’s ceilings.


Note: The latest national salary surveys predict U.S. employers in 2009 will hold salary increases at about 3.8%. But employers will be willing to give out higher merit increases to their highest performers—in some cases, 5.6%, according to Mercer’s 2008/2009 U.S. Compensation Planning Survey.


3. Lay out your case using these presentation tips

  • Start with a point you and your boss can agree on. You might say, for example, “I think we can feel good that customer satisfaction has soared, thanks to the changes we’ve made.” This approach sets up a cooperative atmosphere for the negotiation.
  • Present a solid record of your accomplishments and rely on it as your key negotiating tool. Note especially those extra projects that you took on and the initiative you showed in going above and beyond your narrow job description.
  • Keep your tone positive. Present your raise as a win-win situation. You’ve demonstrated your professionalism; now, more money will help you devote more energy and enthusiasm to your work.
  • Name a figure without waiting for your boss to take the lead. Be aware of any salary ceilings at your company, but aim high.
  • Don’t latch onto the first offer. If your boss offers a raise of any kind, you have won a victory that you can probably make even better. If the offer isn’t enough, say so and then wait quietly for the next offer.
  • End on a positive note. If you are leaving the session with a raise in hand, ask when it will take effect. If you haven’t been successful, ask when you and your boss can discuss the issue again.

4. Be prepared to get past the ‘no raise’ barrier

Here are the four most common objections you’re likely to hear from a boss and how to counter them:

Objection 1: “A raise would put you above your job category maximum.”

Advice: If you’re doing outstanding work, point to your industry’s pay scale. Don’t compare your pay to others in your company. Letting the higher-ups know what you’re worth on the outside can help increase your value on the inside.

Objection 2: “You already earn more than anyone else in the department.”

Advice: Frame your reply this way: “I may be making more than the rest, but don’t you agree that if I work harder and accomplish more, I should be paid more?”

Objection 3: “The company’s had a bad year.”

Advice: If that’s true, you probably should be happy with a small raise. But it doesn’t hurt to dig deeper if your performance is good. Ask when things are expected to turn around and what impact that would have on salaries. Faced with an ironclad ban, ask about rewards in other forms, such as more vacation or flexible hours.

Objection 4: “I’d like to give you more money, but odds are a raise won’t be approved.”

Advice: This answer signals an unbridgeable gap for now. So ask your boss to outline specifically what you have to do to merit a bigger raise. Then establish a timetable for evaluation.



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