So you’ve got a job offer (or landed that promotion), now what?

Now it’s time to make more money. Yes, salary negotiation can be nerve-wracking (what if you price yourself out of the job offer?), but it’s something almost every successful person has done at one time or another. Put simply, if you don’t ask for what you want, you won’t get it.

Here then are some tips on how to negotiate for bigger salaries and raises:

The starting salary

Even before you get a job offer, you should have a good idea of your desired salary. When asked, name a wide range (e.g. $50,000-$70,000) and then define why you should be in the higher end of that range.

It’s important, though, that your salary range be grounded in reality. You don’t want to be a laughed out of the room.

Do your research online and find out what other companies are paying for similar roles. Statistics Canada offers online salary data for industries nationally and by region.

Keep in mind that your skills and experience can create exceptions. A good rule of thumb is to ask for $5,000 more than what you consider a fair base pay. Most companies will counter offer, so by aiming high you may end up with the compensation you want.

Remember, though, that you are negotiating for more than base pay. Perks like increased vacation time, flexible scheduling, or the ability to telecommute can sometimes have a bigger impact than a few extra dollars.

Negotiating a pay raise  

When asking for a raise, you need to remember one thing: this isn’t personal. Forget about how much more Sheila in Accounting makes than you, or how long you have been at the company (unless your contract specifies salary reviews at regular intervals). Successfully asking for a raise means making a case for the value you bring to the organization. It’s all business.

First things first, pick your spots. You don’t want to ask for more money in the middle of a crisis situation (or especially if your company is experiencing layoffs). The worst thing you can do is make it seem like you care more about your paycheque than the company. Be a team player. Help solve that challenge. Then, after a successful project or during a period of growth, set up a time to speak with your boss.

You might also want to wait until the end of the week.

“We’re most open to negotiation (on Thursday or Friday) because most of us want to finish our workweek with the least amount of conflict,” writes Mark di Vicenzo in Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There.

The worst day?

“Wednesday. Unpleasantness and surliness tend to peak then, so try to avoid any situation that can lead to conflict.”

So wait for the end of the week, and be prepared with a list of your most recent accomplishments. Make your case for how your work is undervalued and deserves greater remuneration. Stay confident and positive. Remember that this is a friendly business conversation and not a confrontation. Do not threaten to quit or give ultimatums. Not only can your boss call your bluff, it can unnecessarily burn a bridge.

Your boss will have objections, at least initially. Remember it’s his (or her) job to ensure the financial health and growth of the company. To prepare, anticipate what objections your boss may have ahead of time. This way you can have counter arguments ready. Again, do your research: what is the industry’s market value for jobs like yours?

Remember, though, there are other things your boss can provide to increase job satisfaction or advance your career. Would having more responsibility take your career to the next level? Would adding the word ‘Senior’ to your title illustrate career growth? Do you want to work from home more often? Understand what will make you happy before starting the negotiation process.

No matter what, though, end on a positive note.

And if all else fails…

You might have to look for something new.

If you have been with your company for a long time, and are only receiving minimal increases (or none at all), you might have to leave to earn more. Who knows, you might just find your dream job – with a salary to match.


See also:

10 jobs that can pay over $60,000 (and $100,000) without a degree
The art of the deal: how to negotiate a starting salary


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