Salary negotiations can be an intimidating undertaking, even for the most experienced professionals. But failing to negotiate a raise means you’re leaving money on the table. An extra 4% in your first job may not seem like a lot now, but over your career your lost lifetime earnings could exceed $1 million. Yet only 37% of professionals negotiate their salaries, according to research. Worse, 44% of professionals have never brought up the subject of a raise during a performance review, a prime opportunity to ask for more.
We asked our executive recruiters for their expert tips on how to negotiate a raise in any circumstance. Here’s what to do.
How to Negotiate a Raise with a Promotion
- Do your research. Start with a quick Google research into the going rate for your new position in your specific industry and geographic area. An industry recruiter can also be an excellent resource for insight into regional salaries
- Quantify your value. Ideally, you’ll be able to list specific examples where you’ve saved the company money or landed a major client. Highlight projects or ideas you’ve championed and the leadership responsibilities you’ve undertaken, such as mentoring a new hire. Then shift the conversation to your future potential – what additional value will you be creating in this new role? The company needs to know that paying you a higher salary is a strategic investment.
- Ask for a precise number. While it’s great to have a general range in mind, one effective raise negotiation strategy is to ask for an exact number, such as $74,650 rather than $75,000. Researchers at Columbia University found that when employees use a precise amount in their salary negotiations, managers assume they’ve done extensive research into market value and are more likely to accept that request.
How to Negotiate a Raise with Another Job Offer
- Be confident. In general, hiring managers expect you to negotiate a salary offer and some may even be impressed with your negotiation prowess. If you’re feeling nervous about negotiations, try asking, “How did you calculate this number?” This phrase is a good opener for future talks and an opportunity to discuss your specific value to the company. If you receive a verbal offer during an in-person interview and are not prepared for negotiations, it’s okay to ask for 24 hours to evaluate the offer and return with a counteroffer.
- Avoid negative words and apologetic language. Negotiation is uncomfortable and our natural tendency is to make difficult conversations less awkward by apologizing. It’s easy to default to phrases like, “No, that doesn’t work for me” and “Sorry, but I need…” Keep the conversation tone firm but positive with phrases like, “I would be more comfortable with a base salary of $X.” If you’re negotiating in person, remember that positive body language will go a long way to reinforcing your worth.
- Be open to alternate reimbursement. If the hiring manager won’t budge on salary, consider asking for other benefits, such as tuition reimbursement, training or continuing education, paid leave/vacation time, work from home flexibility, moving expenses (if you will be relocating) and childcare reimbursement. Try saying, “Besides the base pay, what other benefits are negotiable?”
Mastering Raise Negotiations: When the Answer is “No”
Mastering raise negotiation strategies will take practice. Don’t be discouraged if the answer to your raise request is “no.” Ask your supervisor when it will be a good time to revisit the issue. You will already have laid the groundwork for a raise and are likely to be more successful with future negotiations.