Successful negotiations are planned and strategic discussions. Below I outline factors to consider when preparing your strategy to negotiate the desired salary or raise effectively.
Before any of my clients seek a new role or raise, I ask, “Are you doing the job you currently have or are you working for the job you want?”. In today’s job market, skill development is rapid, and the competition is high. Before you start your research on negotiating a new salary or raise, make sure you are going above and beyond your current role, gaining experience and skills needed to transition to the new role, or provide a higher RIO to the employer.
Early in the process, ask questions that will help you understand the company’s priorities and timelines. Asking these intentional questions will provide you with answers that will significantly improve the outcome of your negotiations.
In an interview process, questions such as, “If hired, what are your/the biggest priorities right now?” or “What are the three most important qualities that make someone successful in this role?”. The answers to such questions will help you understand the value you bring to the employers’ needs and offer solutions.
When seeking a raise, gain insight early and often. In your one-on-one meetings with your supervisor, make sure to ask insightful questions that increase your understanding of the budget, current and future strategic plans, and HR policies regarding internal career growth.
There is more on the table than money. Negotiations can also include vacation time, location, signing bonuses, benefits, flexible hours, remote work, relocation benefits, and more. Make sure you know exactly what you are seeking and why.
Do your Research
I recommend using Glassdoor or other pay estimate sites to ensure your final figure is consistent with the labor market, your background, experience, the organization, and within your specific geographic location.
Leverage your Network
Pay estimate sites can be great for establishing an appropriate range, but it is always better to directly hear the information. Do you know someone who works in the company? Do you have recruiters in your network? Reaching out to your connections to better understand the specific company’s pay structure and the labor market.
Know your Minimum
It is important to know the minimum figure you are willing to accept. Walking away from an offer will never be easy, but it is important to know when to say “no, thank you” and do just that, walk away. Your minimum figure will be unique to you; it could be based on financial need, market value, or simply what you need to feel confident in the agreement.
Negotiate from the top
As mentioned before, during your research, you will come up with a range that represents your market value. Although it might feel risky, it is best to negotiate from the top of your range (at least 7% more than your desired salary) in the expectation that the employer will counteroffer down. Employers generally expect some negotiation in the hiring process and typically build a range. If you accept the first offer, they save additional budget dollars.
Know the Exact Number
It’s important to be able to articulate your exact desired figure clearly and confidently. People instinctively use ranges or round figures as their first attempt in negotiations; however, research at Columbia Business School identifies that precise first figures were seen as more informed and led to greater success through the final agreement. For example, instead of asking for $70,000, ask for $74,589.
Be Prepared to Start the Conversation
Avoiding the topic of salary only makes your desired outcome more difficult to achieve, as the first figure mention sets the tone for the entire conversation. In the interview process, it is better to ask the salary range for the position (at an appropriate time) rather than the interviewer ask for your expectations first. When preparing to negotiate a raise, the process starts much earlier than the ask. Find appropriate opportunities to discuss budget, when the budget is due, and career path opportunities with your supervisor.
Know your Worth
Your best justification is the returned value your contributions will have to your employer in negotiating a salary. Prepare a value statement and list of your most valuable contributions with metrics. Know why the employer should hire you. Be prepared to cite the specific accomplishments and your ideas and suggestions to contribute to the company’s strategic initiatives if given the job. Likewise, with raise negotiations, specify your most valuable contributions with metrics and your passion for growing with the company. Please don’t wait until your annual performance review starts the conversation of a raise; commonly, budgets are submitted months before annual reviews.
Remember that negotiations are a two-way conversation that includes presenting your information and active listening, and acknowledging the other side. The more you listen and understand the other side, the better position you will find a middle ground.
Sample: Asking for a Raise
“I really appreciate the opportunities this year as my work has expanded. Specifically, launching the new website that produced a 122% increase in engagement. As my responsibilities continue to grow, I look forward to contributing to the CEO’s YOY growth initiative this next year. Seeing the YOY growth initiative will be a large project for my team for the next five years and rely heavily on our web presence. I’d like to discuss with you the possibilities of reviewing my compensation for the next fiscal year.”
Sample: Negotiating an Offer ‘Thank you for the offer of $60,000. Considering my years of experience, the market value in Miami for this role being an average of $67,700, and my specific data analytic and coding skills, my expectations were closer to $68,750. Is there flexibility or room to negotiate?’
Be Prepared for all Responses
It’s common to prepare how to ask, but fewer actually practice what they will say to the response. Be prepared to respond to all possible answers. What if they say no; is the conversation over? Will you continue to hold your position? Will you still say yes to the job if they stand firm? How long do you wait if the employer says maybe and that they need to get back to you? What if they say yes?
Remember that no matter the answer, although monetary negotiations can feel very personal and impact your personal life greatly, remember this is a business transaction, and it's important to remain professional while keeping your focus on the negotiations and remaining confident and positive.
What have your experiences been with negotiating a new salary or raise? Share in the comments for others to learn and benefit.