By now you’ve probably heard a lot about about the Great Resignation that’s upon us. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, 41% of workers are contemplating leaving their current job this year. If you’re part of this group, now is a great time to sharpen your negotiating skills, as settling on a competitive salary is a critical final step of the job-search process. Even if you plan on staying at your current workplace for the foreseeable future, the job market might present the perfect opportunity to negotiate a raise.
After all, no matter if you’re a seasoned professional or a recent college grad eager for your first job offer, knowing how to negotiate your salary is vital. Here’s how to get this sometimes-awkward conversation right:
1. Do your research
Don’t pull a random figure out of the air. Spend some time browsing different salary guides like glassdoor.com, payscale.com, and salary.com. Know your worth and present a reasonable request. Factors to consider when gathering information include geography, experience, and education level.
2. Track your impact
You’re essentially “selling” yourself to an employer, so come prepared. No one knows what you do—and how well you do it—better than you, especially if you’re negotiating your starting salary at a new company. Find what makes you stand out. Take the time to outline what you do on a daily basis and the accomplishments you’ve made within or for the company (or at your previous company). Make them aware of the hard work you’ve done.
3. Determine what you want
It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty: What do you want? Determine your needs and your wants, make a salary range, and come up with some alternatives to your ideal agreement.
It’s important to consider and include different kinds of non-salary compensation. These benefits include vacation time, health and dental insurance, retirement, travel compensation, the ability to work remotely, and more. You can also negotiate for more leadership roles, authority over your work, or professional development opportunities. This shows your employer you’re taking the initiative to be your best for the next time you want a bump in pay.
4. Get the timing right
If you’ve just received a job offer, the timing for a conversation about expected salary is usually pretty clear.
But if you’re talking with your current employer about a promotion, things can be a bit more complicated. If possible, use recent success and accomplishments to your advantage. Whether you just killed a client presentation or a performance review, use the positive momentum to bring up a raise.
5. Just do it
It can be easy to talk yourself out of asking, but you should always negotiate when you get a job offer. Companies rarely lead with their best offer. And you’re more likely to get what you want if you’re negotiating about more than just money.
If you’re an entry-level employee, don’t feel expendable. You’ve likely just spent years (and lots of money) educating yourself so that you can be good at a job. They need you just as much as you need them. Let companies make the first step with offers. This way you don’t sell yourself short with a lower salary than they would’ve given had you not said anything. Vice versa, you don’t want to shut yourself out because they think you won’t take their lower offer.
Don’t feel pressured to agree immediately. It’s okay to take some time to think it over—even if they give you an offer over the phone. Email is your pal. It lets you take your time when sharing your counteroffer, which helps you not forget the details.
Even if you’re not successful in your negotiation this time, negotiating can make you more enticing to employers because it shows you value yourself and your work. Talk with your manager and make a timeline for when it would be appropriate to reassess a possible raise.
What to avoid when negotiating
Asking for more money is awkward and uncomfortable, but if you apologize every step of the process, you’re undermining yourself. Don’t say sorry. The lack of conviction might make employers think you lack confidence in yourself or your work.
Stay away from negative wording. Remember, you’re working with an employer to get a raise. The word “no” can often end the conversation or slow the momentum. Try shifting to the positive like, “I’d be more comfortable with…” or “Is it possible…” to keep the conversation going and open to more prospects.
When gunning for a raise, make sure it’s because of your performance at work. Oversharing about personal expenses isn’t a reason that will persuade a company to give you more money. Also, stop yourself from using how much another coworker makes as part of your argument. Bringing up topics like this may seem unprofessional, too.
Don’t make an ultimatum. You risk gaining nothing. Companies can’t always cater to additional salary requests, but you can negotiate additional benefits like forms of non-salary compensation. As Will Bachman, cofounder of Umbrex, points out: “A prospective employee who obtains an extra week of vacation gains an effective 2% increase in the salary per day worked.” Think smarter, not harder.