We all know negotiating is critical to career success. Not only does it lead to salary increases, it can lead to a change in job title or an entirely new role.
As with most things, preparation and action are key. You can prepare for the conversation for weeks, but won’t get anywhere without taking the leap. As Miguel Yanez puts it, “Those usually getting a raise are divided into two categories: Awesome performers and those who ASK for a raise.“ Unless you call to attention the contributions you’re making to your company, they may go unnoticed for a long period of time.
So how do you highlight the value you deliver and ask for a raise? Our mentors offered their recommendations, based on their experiences at the negotiation table.
Do the work before you ask
If you’re looking to earn more, performing at the same level as you did a year ago won’t cut it. You must consistently deliver more value than you did when you were last evaluated to be considered for a raise.
“In my previous companies, employees tend to be working at a higher level for three to six months before they’re considered for the formal promotion or raises,” shares Niki Lustig. Douglas McCullough agrees, “As a mentor of mine always said, deliver more than you’re being paid to do. If you focus on delivering more than what is asked or expected, a raise in a no brainer.”
When asking for a raise, you’re asking to have your compensation reevaluated so it matches the contributions you’re making to your company. By going above and beyond your expectations, you make it difficult for the stakeholder to say no.
Clearly articulate how your role has changed
While it’s easy for you to be cognizant of how your role and responsibilities have shifted, for your busy manager, it may not be so clear. It’s up to you to make it easy for them to understand what’s different and why you deserve the raise.
“Consider rewriting your job description to show your increased scope from your original job description.” Lustig shares a few questions to help you get started: “Have you taken on any mentoring or training responsibilities? More customer facing interactions? Leading projects more independently? Have important historical company context? What technical or leadership skills have you developed?”
Remember, it’s not about you
Your company should be at the center of the conversation. Rita Graziano states, “Make sure you provide substance in the form of a value proposition. In other words, what value-add do you bring this year that you didn’t perhaps last year?” She adds that every point should tie back to the goals and objectives of the business.
It isn’t simply about delivering value, but delivering value no one else at your organization can. Peter Lurie recommends that you “make a list and articulate the extra value you’ve added because it was you and not someone else.“
Think about timing
Yanez recommends you investigate the policies at your organization, “Does your company have a review cycle? If so, it is important to make sure you communicate to your manager of your aspirations before the review cycle.“ As you would with any other meeting, let your manager know what your objective is ahead of time so they walk into the room with the right mindset.
Also, keep in mind that negotiating a raise usually doesn’t happen over one conversation. Indu Khosla shares, “I like to handle all career negotiation as a set of conversations, instead of a one-time stand-off.” If your manager says they need some time before giving you an answer, don’t lose hope. If you don’t hear back in a week or so, check back in with them so they feel a little bit of pressure to get back to you.
Take other factors into consideration
Some companies, especially early stage startups, simply don’t have the budget to pay great salaries. While pay certainly is important, there are other compensation factors you can negotiate. “Maybe more vacation time, flexible hours, training/tuition reimbursement or work from home permission.” Lurie suggests you figure out what’s valuable to you and ask for that.
Ask about your gaps, then work on filling them
Sometimes the answer is going to be a “no” or a “not yet,” and that’s okay. It’s a great opportunity for you to clarify what the expectations are so that next time you approach the conversations, you’re prepared. Lustig suggests, “Consider asking what types of knowledge, skills and experiences you can develop to set you up to take on more responsibility and prepare for the next role.“
Yanez agrees that a “no” shouldn’t deter you. After walking away from the conversation, you should take the time to set a plan. Ask yourself, “what do I need to do to get what i want? What are my next steps?” He shares that by taking action on the feedback you’ve received, you demonstrate your commitment, loyalty, and drive.
In summary, when asking for a raise:
- Clearly articulate how your role has grown
- Prove the unique value you deliver and how it ties to your company’s goals
- Ask for feedback to be better prepared for your next conversation