If you’re gearing up to ask for a pay bump, you probably have a specific number in mind.
And yet, if you want to succeed, you shouldn’t reveal that number right off the bat, a new study suggests. Instead, you’d be wise to present your boss with a range.
In fact, the most effective strategy is to present a “bolstering offer,” or one that starts with the desired salary and stretches upward. For example, if you’re hoping for $100,000, you’d ask for a $100,000 to $120,000 salary.
This strategy works better than simply asking for $120,000, the researchers found, because your manager might see the $120,000 request as too inflexible.
Another option is to use a “bracketing offer” by presenting a range that spans the desired salary. So if you’re gunning for that $100,000, you’d ask for $90,000 to $110,000.
With this tactic, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with the same salary as if you had just asked for $100,000–but you’ll appear more flexible.
Still, whether you use a bolstering or a bracketing offer, be sure not to set the bar too high, or you may sabotage your chances of scoring any raise at all. The researchers found that it’s generally best to keep the range pretty narrow, using endpoints within about 20% of each other.
Though the study didn’t analyze gender specifically, the researchers say they believe these strategies could be especially useful for women. That’s because women are frequently (and unfairly) seen as either too aggressive or too obliging when they request raises.
If you’re fearful of asking for a pay bump and getting shut down, take heart. Other research suggests that most workers who petition for a pay bump actually get it.
This article originally appeared in LearnVest and is reprinted with permission.