Whether you're about to get hired or have been employed for several years, negotiating a salary is never an easy task, especially in today's economy. With the unemployment rate sitting at 9.1%, one may feel insecure asking for more money when many are either out of work or striving to keep their jobs. But, now may actually be a wise time to ask for a raise. It may sound counterintuitive, but to avoid turnover as the economy improves, employers will likely want to incentivize and retain their top talent now.
"It is always in your best interest to negotiate for a salary," says Nicole Williams, connection director at LinkedIn as well as career expert and best-selling author. "Even if you don't get the salary increase this time around, if you present a great proposal and argument for why you should be getting a raise, you will be top of mind during the next round of negotiations," she says.
For those of you who are currently employed and seeking a better salary, timing is important. Be sensitive to not only your boss' mood, but your company's fiscal health and budget cycle so you don't ask for a raise when business is slow or after the yearly budget has been set. Experts say Wednesday is usually the least stressful day of the week to approach your boss.
Another tip for the currently employed: Do the work first, and then ask for more money.
"The easiest way to get that promotion is to actually be doing that work and to be doing it well. You want to start about 30 days in advance so that you don't peter out and so that you have enough time to make a real impact," says Williams.
For those who are currently seeking work — you're in luck. The best time to ask for more money is when you first get a job offer. In fact, about 51% of employers say they planned to leave room for negotiation when offering a position to a prospective hire this year, according to Career Builder's survey on salary negotiation in 2010, so don't just accept the first thing on the table.
For those entering at an associate level, Williams says you have a negotiating window of about five to 10%. "When it's a more managerial position, you have upwards of 20%," she says. "But, if you don't get the increase you're looking for, look or other perks, whether it be vacation or flex time, something you'd really enjoy."
While you're in the meeting, remember to talk up your skills and past accomplishments. Close to half of employers say that an impressive list of accomplishments would factor into their decision to pay you more, according to the same Career Builder survey. And come prepared. Learn the going rate for the job you're applying for by talking to others in your industry and using career resources, such as Payscale.com and Vault.com.
"Make sure that this is a salary that you're going to be happy with over the course of the next couple of years because it may be a while before you have the opportunity to ask again," says Williams.