By Lisa Rangel, CPRW, PHR, CEIC, CJSS, MCS, SNCS & OPNS
Understanding how to ask for a raise and negotiate a salary increase is a professional skill everyone needs to master. When you ask for a raise, there are many things you can do ahead of time to increase your odds of landing the salary increase you want.
Studies by management consulting firms show the average salary increase in 2012 will hover around a 3% salary raise. After reviewing research, I find using the following salary negotiation tactics can optimize your pay and maximize your raise, when done right:
(1) Prove yourself before you ask for a raise. Many times employees ask for a raise but have not proven their value to the firm. View your potential raise as an investment made by the organization and that company is looking to see what will be their return on the investment made in you. Place yourself in visible positions and promote yourself to ensure the decision makers understand your value.
(2) Volunteer for a project that is critical to the company’s success or mission. One way to gain visibility is to offer your talents, time and abilities to challenging projects that are viable to the firm’s success. This way you will be working alongside key players within the company who can vouch for your work ethic and commitment to bring results.
(3) Record your performance – track your achievements. Do not assume your boss knows what you have accomplished. Keep a log of all of your successes and wins, no matter how big or small. This will allow you to make a significant case demonstrating your value to the company, justifying the firm’s investment in you in the form of a pay raise.
(4) Capitalize on a recent, significant success. Have you just completed a project that went well? Diplomatically brag about you and your team’s success to your boss and other critical decisions makers. If you don’t promote you, no one will.
(5) Do your homework – see what your profession is worth. Using websites such as salary.com and other industry specific websites, acquire the information about your profession and see if you are above, below or at market rate for your skill and experience. If you are at or below what the market is paying and have significant successes under your belt, this could form a strong case for you warranting a raise based on your credentials and achievements.
(6) Tie your raise to your performance and success. Offer to lead a project and put your money where your mouth is—outline the parameters for success and propose to tie a bonus or raise to meeting these parameters. If your project is to streamline expenses or raise revenue, then proposing that you receive a piece of that financial success pays for itself.
(7) Look at other options besides money. If money is tight, regardless of your performance, consider other forms of compensation to be flexible with your employer, while still allowing them to reward your contributions.
(8) Think, “Would you give you a raise?” Be the person you would want to give a raise to. It is that simple. Do you make your boss’s job easier? Do you make your boss look good? Would he/she be excited to lobby for you to his/her managers to obtain their approval to give you a raise? Do you make it worth the risk for them to stand up for you?
(9) Be a top 5% performer for your employer. If you are a top 5% performer in your organization, then the answers to all of these questions would be ‘yes.’ If you did not receive the salary raise you were looking for this past year, look at the tactics included in this article for clues.
(10) Invest in yourself and your professional development.When was the last time you furthered your professional education? Attended an industry event? Companies want to invest in people who invest in themselves—again, demonstrating an ROI on monies the firm gives you in the form of a salary raise.
(11) Timing can be everything—ask at the right time. The decisions for issuing raises are completed often well before review time or fiscal year begins. Ask for a raise the quarter or two before the raises are normally given out to put yourself on the radar. Bad times to ask are when poor financial information has been issued or when raises have been announced. By then it is too late.
(12) Ask your boss what you can do to get one next year. Did not get the raise you were hoping for? Allow your boss to be very candid with you and share what you could do to improve your chances in landing a raise next year—solicit specific feedback to projects you can handle and your performance up to that point. Do not be defensive when receiving this information. It is meant to help you improve, so you land in a higher salary bracket next year.
(13) Be realistic and be grateful. No one wants to give a raise to someone who is asking for a 65% raise or feels entitled to getting a raise. Those types of employees will never be happy, so companies do not invest their precious dollars with these people—don’t be one of these people. Stick to a 5-10% range and have your documentation ready. Whether you get what you want or now, be gracious, thank them for their time and consideration, and be grateful for what you have. Set your plans to make the following year the best ever.