How to Get Over Your Fear of Negotiating a Raise (Because You Deserve It!)
I'm not the type of person who has ever felt comfortable talking about money. I hate asking for it when people owe me, I hate discussing a budget when traveling with friends, I hate basically any conversation that involves a dollar sign. It's understandable then, that throughout my career I haven't been particularly assertive when it comes to negotiating salary increases. Even when a promotion is clearly deserved, it's still a conversation I'd rather avoid.
Even so, salary negotiations are obviously an important skill to master, which is why I tracked down Sydney-based career coach Jane Jackson. With 15 years of experience in the industry, and over 1,000 clients, she's picked up a few tricks over the years to help you address the anxiety that can come with negotiating a salary increase. Here's what she had to share.
Understand why you're nervous.
Maybe you’ve always felt awkward talking about money, or perhaps you’re not confident about your contribution to a company, but whatever it is that’s making you feel uncomfortable about asking for a raise should be identified before you start chatting to your employer about a salary increase. Jackson explains that young people in particular often fail to understand their worth in the workplace. “Especially when just entering the workforce, [young people] believe that they should take what they are offered without discussing the money offered, and due to lack of experience, may not even realise that an offer is potentially open for discussion,” Jackson explained, adding that millennials can often feel uncomfortable talking about money, regarding as a taboo subject, which also depends on what “influenced their perception of money as they were growing up.”
The next step is to overcome those nerves with preparation. More on that ahead.
Identify the right time to ask for a raise.
In some companies regular career conversations are the norm, however in others there is no discussion until the formal annual or bi-annual performance reviews. If you work for an employer that’s more flexible, there are a few things to consider when deciding the right time to negotiate your salary, including both the company’s performance and your own personal performance. “The right time to ask for a raise is when you know the company is doing well. If there has been recent restructure resulting in a number of roles being made redundancy or you know that there are cost cutting measures then obviously that is not a good time,” Jackson said. “If the annual results have been favourable and the company, industry and economy are reasonably buoyant then the time may be right to bring up the subject.”
You’re also likely to be in a better position to negotiate a raise following some stellar professional goal-kicking of your own. “If you have recently been getting many wins on the board and significant accomplishments for which you’ve been recognised for, then you’ll know that you are considered to be a valuable member of staff,” Jackson recommended. “While basking in this positive glow, this could be a good time for a discussion as your perceived value will be high.”
Request a face-to-face meeting.
It’s crunch time! Once you’ve identified the right time to request a raise, ask your manager if you can set up a face-to-face meeting in the couple couple of weeks. Jackson suggests saying that you would “like to have a career conversation to be sure that you are on the right track.”
Research your current market value.
In the time leading up to your meeting, arm yourself with as much information as possible. Research online to find out what others with similar experience in adjacent roles are being paid at other companies. A good place to start is Michael Page’s salary survey outlining average salaries across multiple industries in recent years. “It’s important to know what reasonable range to expect for the size of company, job function and also industry,” Jackson added.
Be prepared to prove your worth.
Simply telling your boss that you’ve been with the company a long time, or that you want to progress, isn’t really going to cut it. You will need to prove how your position and responsibilities have evolved since your last salary review to outline exactly what extra contribution they need to reward you for.
Jackson suggests analyzing what you’ve achieved in the previous year, with a focus on tangible, quantifiable results. Not sure where to start? Try answering these seven questions.
1. Have you saved the company money?
2. Have you saved the company time?
3. Have you increased profits?
4. Have you streamlined processes?
5. Have you taken on additional responsibilities since your last salary review?
6. Have you gained additional qualifications since you joined the company?
Practice your responses for common questions.
After you have given your spiel about why you want to continue to grow with the company and what you’ve contributed, your boss might have a few questions—and you better be prepared for them. Jackson suggests prepping for some frequently asked questions: “Your employer may ask you why you believe you deserve a salary increase, what has prompted this request, or why you are dissatisfied with your current salary.”
It’s also common for managers in this situation to ask what your significant accomplishments have been, so that they can prove your value to the company. Remember it’s not necessarily just about convincing them, your boss may need to present a case to higher level management as to why you deserve a promotion or raise.
Consider a backup plan.
Of course, even with the best preparation there’s a chance your employer will say no, and you need to be ready for that. They also might come back with a counter offer, so have a number in mind that is acceptable to you. “Prepare for the worst scenario and if you can handle that well, everything else will be so much easier,” Jackson cautioned. Think about whether you might be comfortable accepting flexible working hours, days off in lieu, subsidies for parking, transport, insurance, or meals, that may add up to a significant savings for you if provided by the company. Ask your boss what you can do to earn a promotion in three, six, or 12 months, and work towards your new KPIs. And remember, the worst thing your boss can say is "no," so you have nothing to lose.
Photo: Little Drill