Knowing what you’re worth, and being able to negotiate for it, is an essential skill that can have profound impacts on your life.
But for many people, negotiation can be so uncomfortable that they avoid it altogether. So whether you’re starting a new job or asking for a pay raise, negotiation skills are crucial for everyone. Here are some tips for negotiating successfully.
Know Your Worth
If you tend to low-ball yourself when asking for a salary amount or a raise, it’s important to arm yourself with the information that will make you feel more confident.
For example, what do people in your field tend to make in your area? How many years have you been in your current career? What experience and qualifications do you have? How long has it been since your last raise? If you’ve been with a company for a while, what accomplishments have you achieved since you’ve been there?
You have to be your own advocate. Sometimes, just doing good work will not be enough to get you more money; you have to ask for what you want. Knowing the facts will help you present your case.
Know Why You Want a Raise
If you’re asking for a raise, it helps to have a good “why.” But this isn’t about higher rent prices or cost of food (though inflation is a serious problem right now.)
This is more about your duties at work and what might have changed recently. Taking on more responsibilities, traveling more or obtaining a degree or certificate can all warrant higher pay. But even just performing your duties well consistently can be worthy of a raise; cite specific examples over the past year or so to show your value in your position.
Know the Right Time to Ask
When you’re interviewing for a new job, the salary discussion typically comes up in the second interview. Too many people go into that interview waiting for their potential employer to give them a number. Some employers will leave it up to you to give them the first number, so make sure you’re prepared so you don’t give a knee-jerk answer.
Asking for a raise can be a bit trickier. There can be obvious times to ask, like after a positive review or when you’re accepting a promotion. But for some companies, there is a time of year when they have to set their salaries (like the end of the year.) Be aware of when those decisions are made, and avoid asking for a raise during low times, like after a string of layoffs.
How to Negotiate Successfully
If you’d rather have a root canal than ask for more money, preparation is going to be key. The more confident you can be when you’re asking for a raise, the better that conversation will likely go.
Here is a general guide for asking for a raise:
- Set up a time to talk to your boss where neither of you will be too rushed or stressed to talk.
- Prepare your facts and examples of your value in your role.
- When you meet, present your accomplishments, increased responsibilities or role changes that factor into your request.
- Explain what’s in it for your boss or company. Share your plans and goals for the future in your role.
- Present your request in writing in case your boss has to talk with others before giving you a raise. Include all the facts you discussed, along with a salary range and other important information that might affect their decision.
- Give it time. Most likely, your boss has to talk to other decision makers before accepting your request.
- Be prepared for your request to be changed or denied. Sometimes a raise isn’t possible for reasons that have nothing to do with you. If your boss tells you no, you can ask what you need to do to be considered for a raise in the future.
Negotiating Your Worth for Women
Negotiating a salary amount or a raise can be a challenge for everyone, but especially for women. In her book Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock revealed that just seven percent of women attempted to negotiate their first salary, compared to 57 percent of men. When people did negotiate, they increased their salary by more than seven percent.
That seven percent can add up significantly over time, so don’t be afraid to ask. Continue to keep a list of your tasks and accomplishments, and be ready to ask for exactly what you want when the opportunity arises.
Negotiating a Contract as a Physician
If you’re a physician, requesting a salary amount or a pay increase can be a bit more challenging, because there is typically a contract involved. It’s particularly important to understand the terms of your contract before you sign, and advocate for yourself from the beginning. Check out my post about negotiating your physician contract for more tips.
The Bottom Line
Advocating for yourself is a vital life skill, especially in your career. The more you practice, the more you’ll build your confidence in having these conversations. For more help, Indeed has some scripts that show you what requesting a raise or higher salary could look like.
About Your Richest Life
At Your Richest Life, physician-focused financial planner Katie Brewer, CFP®, wants to help you build a successful financial future. For more information on the services offered, contact Katie today.
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