Your salary matters. It may not be the most critical part of your job, but your rate of pay makes a significant impact on how engaged, satisfied, and committed you are to your work. If you have your sights set on a salary increase in the year ahead, it's time to start preparing for a meaningful conversation.
Your annual review is often the appropriate opportunity for negotiating a raise. However, all too often, individuals go into these reviews expecting managers to have been following their accomplishments closely, just waiting to reward them. In reality, it's up to you to carefully prepare a case for your salary increase and negotiate accordingly.
Before you dive in, it's important to note the average salary increase a worker in the U.S. can expect is about 3%. The value of a raise is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you’re seeking a 10% increase or just a cost-of-living increase, you must be prepared and confident.
Get ready to negotiate a salary increase expertly:
Set current + future goals
Understanding your current and future goals are critical when preparing to ask for a raise. One of the best ways to prepare for negotiating a salary increase is by having an open and honest conversation with your manager before you ever sit down to negotiate. Let them know what your priorities are for continuing to excel in your current role, but also share your long-term goals for advancement. Ask your manager for recommendations on how you can improve in your current role and position yourself for advancement and achieving your goals within your organization. Their feedback will be critical to preparing for popping the big pay question and negotiating accordingly.
Track + review accomplishments
Even managers with the keenest connection to their employee's performance aren't going to be able to remember your most significant accomplishments on a whim. This is why it's so critical to track all of your accomplishments. These could be completed projects, times when you exceeded expectations, examples of exceptional teamwork, and general documentation of excellent performance. If you aren't currently keeping a running list, get started now!
Once you've reviewed your wins, round-up for top accomplishments you want to share with your manager to back your salary increase request. If you’re a rockstar employee with a long list of accomplishments, it can be tough to pick just a few to talk about. One helpful tip is to choose achievements that embody the values of your company and your team. Outcomes and metrics are essential to sharing tangible evidence of your success. They also provide strong backing of your value to the company.
Know your worth
Reviewing your accomplishments should help put you in the frame of mind required to negotiate a raise. Confidence and knowledge of your worth are essential to your success. Before you can convince your manager of your worthiness for a raise, you need to believe that you've earned it.
Aside from a determined mindset, a realistic understanding of your market value will aid you in negotiations. Research your current and proposed salary for your role and qualifications in your specific region. Find out if your pay is in line with others in similar positions, industries, and at the same level of experience. This type of research will ensure your understanding of your worth, as well as work to help with company-specific factors that may influence pay rates. For instance, your benefits package may far outweigh other industries when your salary is coming in lower than most. All of this information will act as facts to back up your assertions for your salary increase request.
Come with a proposed figure
Merely asking for a pay increase isn't going to get you a raise. You'll need to come to the table with a number you feel confident backing up with your performance and research. Your research and preparation will allow you to solidify a number to bring to your review. Aim a bit higher than the figures you found in your research. This will allow you to be comfortable if and when negotiation takes place.
Practice your pitch
Practice makes perfect. It may feel strange to roleplay your conversation and talking points by yourself, but rehearsing allows you to build confidence, relax, and consider possible responses. Play out a variety of scenarios for questions and responses to your proposal. These could include a reluctant or resistant manager or a request for your research on regional and industry salary trends.
Write down the questions you anticipate being asked and craft your responses carefully. Continue to role-play scenarios until you’re feeling comfortable. Even better, ask a friend or partner to help you prepare and provide feedback.
Prepare a timeline
Set yourself up with a plan to handle your manager being completely unwilling to accommodate your increase request. Prepare to negotiate for a timeline to get the salary increase you want. For example, be clear about your disappointment and request to revisit this conversation in three months. This timeline could relate to your company doing better financially or simply your manager's interest in you taking on more responsibility or projects to get you where you need to be for an increase.
In the meantime, there's also the option to negotiate other benefits in this timeframe. For instance, you could arrange to work from home one day a week, request more vacation time, or even for your company to pay for an educational opportunity. Remember, this should not be seen as the same value as the salary increase.
Get your agreed-upon increase is in writing
A conversation doesn't seal the deal when it comes to a salary increase. Make sure you leave your meeting and get with something in writing. If your company doesn't have a standard procedure for this, write a memo to your manager and HR with an overview of your conversation and the agreed-upon increase. Ideally, this document will be signed by you, your manager, and your HR team before going into effect.
The process of negotiating a salary increase is only as nerve-wracking as you make it. Calm your nerves by putting time into preparation, understanding your goals and past performance, and the market conditions. All of this will work to ensure you come off as professional and poised as possible. You’ve got this!