Get a Pay Raise

Feeling overworked and underpaid? Follow these guidelines to negotiate yourself a higher salary*:

Negotiations

  • Assess your negotiating position - Be practical when trying to get a raise and try to determine where you stand at your workplace. Ask yourself questions such as: Does my boss like me? Is my job important to the organization as a whole? Would it be easy for my employer to find someone at my current salary who can replace me? The more "yes" answers you have to these questions, the more confident you should be in negotiating, the safer you are in requestimg more money, and the firmer you can be in responding to a "no."
  • Get comparable salary info for your job - In general it's good to be able to quantify exactly how much you contribute to your organization. If that's not possible, use our Salary Calculator to find comparable salaries for workers in your position. Then, write a one-page memo to the boss estimating your fair market value. That will give your boss something tangible to show higher-ups to justify giving you a raise.
  • Know the right time to ask - Don't push for a raise when your boss is distracted or your organization's finances are in jeopardy. It's best to ask for a raise right after you've accomplished something  significant.
  • Use other job offers - Nothing helps your bargaining position like a job offer or expression of interest from another firm. Even if you'd like to stay, inquire about job openings at other firms. If they express interest you can legitimately tell your boss "I'm very happy here but other firms have expressed interest in me."
  • Money isn't everything - If your boss tells you that the money just isn't there, switch gears. For example , suggest a position that requires more responsibility.  It's easier for your employer to rationalize a higher salary if your job description is changed to include higher-level work. Or ask if you can reopen negotiations in three months. If the boss agrees, put it in writing.
  • Alternatives - Can't get anywhere on salary? Try for a noncash, tax-free goodie: the right to telecommute, a more prestigious title, flexible hours etc.


*This information was taken from "The Art of the Raise" published in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Jan. 2006 by columnist Marty Nemko, PhD. Visit his website at www.martynemko.com.

Don't be greedy!
What if you're about to join a new company? Your moment of maximum negotiating leverage comes when you're offered the position but haven't accepted it yet. If you feel confident, make a counteroffer. But don't wrangle over every last dime. After taxes, the extra money you get is rarely worth any ill feelings you may generate. And your employer will expect top-dollar performance. Mess up once and you may end up in the doghouse.

Responding to Rejection
If you get turned down, don't get mad. Coolly say "I understand your position," and leave the room.  An ambiguous response is more effective than an aggressive one because it leaves your boss wondering what you'll do next. If the boss is worried that you might look elsewhere, you're only more likely to get an offer.

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