Salary negotiation can be a sticky subject. While it's usually not easy and can be uncomfortable, it's important to know when it's appropriate and how to do it right.
A recent Salary.com survey reveals a surprising statistic. Almost everyone - nearly 90 percent of both genders polled - would like to negotiate more effectively. What's more, according to Abby Euler, general manager of Salary.com, the company's research has also shown that 84 percent of managers expect employees to try to negotiate their salary.
To aid in your efforts, consider the seven steps below to successful salary negotiation:
1. Research yourself. Before you start negotiating, you have some homework to do - on you. Euler suggests finding the fair market salary range for your position, education, experience and location as a first step. "Use a tool like Salary.com's free Salary Wizard, which compiles 100 percent HR-reported salary data to find out what you're worth," Euler says. "Then, outline how your contributions and performance have helped improve your company's bottom line."
2. Discover your financial impact. Whether you work for a for-profit company, a nonprofit organization or a civic entity, you're either a revenue generator or a cost center for your company, according to Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, LLC. Donovan recommends asking yourself the following questions:
--Have you produced more revenue than expected or than your colleagues?
--Have you lowered cost by processing more than your colleagues?
--Have you saved money by changing vendors or renegotiating a vendor contract?
--Have you saved money by shortening processes without lowering quality?
"Those are just some of the examples of how each of us impact the finances of our company," Donovan explains. "Drill any of these examples down to the dollar, and discuss that dollar amount when you discuss your impact on the company."
Euler additionally suggests considering details like specifically where you increased revenue, saved your company money, delivered exceptional service, took on responsibilities outside your job role or exceeded your goals. "Remember: Your manager will have to take this request to his or her manager, so use all the data and examples you can to make it clear that your job performance is raise-worthy," she says.
3. Use multiple avenues. There are numerous online websites you can use to check the going rates for your position and in your industry, including Salary.com, Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com. Donovan also notes that trade associations for many job functions or industries can provide this information, as well as provide details about employment packages. Another suggestion from Donovan is to call a headhunter, who can give you another perspective on the market value of the job - as well as create another option for getting paid more. "Tell the headhunter what you do and what you get paid," she advises. "Then ask if they could get you the same type of job for higher pay. You become a much better negotiator when you know you have options."
4. Research your company. This is a step that's often forgotten, but being aware of the financial position of your company is crucial for your negotiation, according to Euler. She recommends finding out what the current fiscal year looked like from a company perspective, including quarterly performance. "If the company is not meeting revenue goals, your salary request will most likely fall on deaf ears," she says. "Also, ask your manager or HR about when salary reviews happen, so that you can set a meeting at least a month prior to ask for a raise."
5. Leave emotion at the door. Trying to buy a house? About to send a child to college? While these are milestones in your life, they do not factor into whether or not you deserve a raise, Euler says. "When you enter a negotiation, you should only come armed with data, facts, and honesty around your job and company performance. Lay out your case rationally, ask for what you think you deserve, and be prepared to answer questions and provide further support for your request."
6. Remain professional. Even if you're a strong negotiator, you will rarely get everything you want. If you get an outright "no," Euler suggests using that as an opportunity to ask how you can improve your performance. "Rejection is always difficult, but try not to take an unsuccessful negotiation personally - and definitely don't let it deter you in the future," she says. "If you're denied the raise percentage that you request, don't forget the list of non-salary related items you can negotiate."
7. Widen the package. If you work for a start-up, small- to mid-sized company or are new to the workforce, Euler notes that your company may not be able to offer you more in base salary. But she reminds prospective negotiators that extra vacation days, equity, working from home or performance-based bonuses are all up for negotiation as well. Therefore, when negotiating salary, be sure to include all aspects of your employee package in your discussion. Donovan notes that the areas most open for negotiation are salary and flex schedules - but adds that any aspect of your package is good to include in this discussion. "It gives you items to compromise and trade for the salary you truly want," Donovan says. "Without opening with more than you want, you will never end up with what you want in the negotiation."
Robin Madell has spent two decades as a writer, journalist and communications consultant on business, leadership, career and diversity issues. She has interviewed more than 200 thought leaders around the globe, and has won 20 awards for editorial excellence. Robin serves as a speechwriter and ghostwriter for CEOs and top executives, with a specialized focus on women in business. She is author of Surviving Your Thirties: Americans Talk About Life After 30 and co-author of The Strong Principles: Career Success.
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