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5 Steps to Asking for the Salary You Deserve

  • By Sheri Fitts
  • Published: 9/15/2020

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You don’t have to change jobs just to get the salary you want. If you hate where you work, then yes, dust off your resume and start the search. But if you like your company and simply want the salary you deserve, it’s time to rock that raise negotiation. With some planning and research, you’ll be able to present to your boss what you’re worth and get more money—or a wonderful work/life balance perk such as remote options or extra vacation days.

Even if you weren’t great at negotiating your salary when you first landed the job, it is never too late to ask for what you want. A study from PayScale found that women are more uncomfortable than men with negotiating salary and are therefore less likely to do it. But now is the time! Be sure to set the stage for these conversations before the holidays sneak up on you and budgets have closed for the year.

So grab a pumpkin spice latte and start practicing these five ways to be a kickass negotiator at your job:

1. Talk to someone in your industry. Actually, talk to two people: a woman and a man. It is important to get both perspectives because women negotiate differently than men. No, men are not better at it; they just tend to have a different approach. You’ll want to choose two people with the same job as you at other companies to gauge how your paychecks compare.

Depending on your relationship, it may be awkward to just flat-out ask someone how much they make. In that case, Jim Hopkinson of Salary Tutor suggests approaching the topic with something like, “In my experience, people in our position make a range of A to Z. Has that also been your experience?” If you want to steer clear of numbers altogether, you can just ask for advice about how they approached their salary negotiation.

Aside from salary, you can also find out how much they travel and what their hours are like. After all, work/life balance also factors into salary. They might make more money than you, but in your conversation, you discover that they work 12-hour days compared with your nine.

2. Research your salary online. You can also determine what you are worth by researching your position on websites like Glassdoor. You can search for your company and even see salaries for various departments and titles, as well as the number of people who submitted their salary information in those departments.

3. Think beyond salary. It is not just about the money. Sure, a raise would be great and that should be your first goal. But if your boss isn’t agreeing to the number you want, there are other ways to negotiate. Think: vacation days, stock, a flexible schedule, or remote work. You can also ask for a better title. It is likely that this is not your last job, so you have to think about how your title will look on your resume during your next search.

4. Plan ahead. Ideally, you’ll want to start making your case for a raise far before fall. Look ahead to the next six months and think about what you can do to prepare for your annual review. Start documenting your results as early as possible so you don’t have to scramble in the fall every year. If you have not already started preparing this year, there is still time to go through your emails to find notes of praise from supervisors, as well as proof of big projects and achievements from the past year. If you had to create a performance dashboard for your boss, what would it look like right now?

You can also make a portfolio, even if you’re not in a creative industry. Hopkinson suggests putting together a presentation in PowerPoint or going through slides on an iPad during your annual review.

5. Approach with confidence. Now that you have done your research and made a case for why you deserve more money, you should go in with the confidence that you deserve it. So leave the wishy-washy language behind and say what you really want. And if you do not get the number you’re asking for, do not be discouraged. Now you have set the precedent of asking for what you deserve, and your boss will not forget it.   

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Handy checklist for negotiating your salary:

  1. Talk to people in similar positions about their salaries.
  2. Research your job online to understand your market worth.
  3. Make a list of non-money perks you would also be interested in negotiating.
  4. Keep a log of your achievements throughout the year. Don’t scramble to find everything in the fall.
  5. Know that you deserve it. You have the proof!

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