Photo Credit: Stacey Newman/E+/Getty images
Get the timing right
If you can, wait until your company’s next pay review to ask for a raise. This is the time of year when money matters will be discussed anyway within the organization.
Alternatively, other good times of the year to bring the matter up are when you’re discussing current projects or reviewing performance with your boss. In terms of what time of day to bring it up, after lunch and in the early to mid-part of the afternoon is a great time to talk to your boss about it. Everyone’s blood sugar levels are up, making potentially tough conversations easier.
Build a business case
Building a business case is all about bringing firm, hard evidence of your value to the negotiation table. Think about both what you’re contributing to the organization now and what you will contribute in the future.
Prepare as evidence some examples of your contribution by thinking about the responsibilities that you have and the tasks you’ve completed. As pay negotiations are essentially about cold, hard figures, include some figures in your business case.
Show how your actions and initiative have saved the business money and drawn in extra revenue.
Learn to understand your boss
Make sure you understand your immediate boss and where they’ll fit in during the negotiation process.
The less control they have over the business’ purse strings, the more they’ll have to act as an advocate on your behalf to their superiors and the more evidence of your worth you’ll have to give to your boss in order to both motivate them and equip them to plead your case.
The kind of evidence the boss will need from you is the amount of goals you’ve accomplished in the past year and what you’ve been doing to make your performance more efficient.
Be ready to go
On the day of the negotiations, it’s important to look the part and also feel as good as possible on the inside. Dress nicely, but in something you feel comfortable in. Arrive at work early so you can go through your business case one more time.
Drink plenty of water before the meeting. It’s important to be well hydrated so you don’t get sluggish. It’s also important to eat something shortly beforehand. Not only will this keep your blood sugar levels up, you also won’t be distracted by your growling stomach!
Enter negotiations smartly
Begin negotiations with the end in mind. When you enter that room, make sure you already know what it is you deserve. Also be clear with yourself on what your boundaries are. How much scope for flexibility are you allowing?
What are you willing to accept or not accept? Don’t be greedy by asking for more than you know you’re worth. Use as much rationale as possible to ask for an increase that reflects your value.
Be sure to listen smartly as well as talk smartly. If you need someone to repeat something, simply ask them to repeat it.
Let the employer go first
Although you should be aware of what you’re looking for, let the employer name a price first. If you show your hand too quickly you might inadvertently let on what the minimum you’re willing to accept is.
Once the organization knows this, that’s what it’ll offer you, even if you’re worth more. If you can’t get out of naming a figure first, at least avoid picking a round number. It’s too easy for the negotiators to shave off, say, five grand in order to get to another round number. Instead, choose a figure that doesn’t end in 0 or 5.
Turn down the first offer
The first offer the employer makes is unlikely to be what you’re looking for. Just because it’s the first offer doesn’t mean you have to accept it. When you hear the offer, don’t say anything.
If you’ve named a top figure, repeat this number and then don’t say anything else. Silence is likely to lead to an improved offer. Even with subsequent offers, don’t say anything right away.
This not only puts pressure on the negotiators to raise it again but also gives you time to consider the offer.
Sleep on it
You’re also within your rights not to give an answer right away. If you feel you need time and space away from the room to consider the offer, say that you need a few days to think about it.
Use these few days to consider whether the offer really reflects your worth to the company. Of course, you also need to consider whether the money they're offering is enough for you to live on, as presumably one of the reasons you’ve requested a pay raise in the first place is simply because you need a greater income.
Be prepared to walk
Think about the implications of not getting what you want and be prepared to walk. In a world where there’s a war for talent, if you’re good, there’s somebody who’ll buy you.
If you choose to stay somewhere where you genuinely believe you’re paying underpaid, you’ll become demotivated and resentful and your productivity levels will go down the drain.
Taking the risk of finding a new employer who will recognize and reward your true worth is a better option. Also if the negotiators at your current company sense that you really will walk, they’re less likely to mess around.
Confirm the agreement
If you do manage to reach an agreement, summarize what you believe it to be before the meeting ends. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re assuming the agreement means one thing but the employer thinks it means something else altogether.
Confirm what your new compensation package consists of, the date from which it’ll take effect and any other implications of this improved financial contract.
Nisa Chitakasem co-founded Position Ignition.com to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.
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