10 Critical Tips To Successfully Negotiating a Pay Raise

Hello. I’m Kyle from “The Distilled Man“. In this article, I’m going to share 10 critical tips you need to know in order to successfully negotiate a pay raise at work.

Everybody wants to be paid more money for what they do. Everybody wants to feel valued at work. Yet, so many people approach asking for more money the wrong way. Most of the time, it’s because the discussion is long overdue. They’re overworked, they feel underpaid, they feel underappreciated in general — and since their motivation is coming from the wrong place, usually it ends very badly. Either they won’t get the raise, or even worse, they get the raise but their boss and their company resents them for forcing their hands.

It doesn’t have to be that way, if done well. Asking your employer for money can actually be a very positive experience. You’re essentially giving them an opportunity to keep you happy, just like with personal relationships. If you can learn to communicate your needs in a non-threatening way, you will reap the reward. I’m going to share ten critical tips you can use to help improve that conversation of asking for more money. These are the same strategies I used multiple times, to get significant raises.

Deserve The Raise

Number one, deserve the raise. This is the hardest part, and that’s why I wanted to cover it first. You might laughing to yourself, but there’s really no shortcut here. That means that you not only should have been busting your butt working a lot, but you’ve actually been creating value for your company and for your customers, wherever they may be. Deep down, you probably know whether or not that’s true. Sometimes, when you’re working all the time and you feel like you’re just slugging and slogging through crap every single day, it’s easy to get a distorted view and not be objective about it. “Of course I deserve a raise I’m killing myself every day”. This is his job. Step back and look at it objectively.

Do Your Research

Number two, do your research. What are other people making? You can usually find salary surveys for your industry in journals and online. You can also find salary ranges on other job postings, (whatever their company’s offering for comparable positions). That’s obviously highly irrelevant, because your boss knows that if every single job posting you see for a job like yours, you’re $10,000 more than you’re making, it’s not long before you’re going to head for greener pastures.

Be Specific

Number three, be specific about what your’re asking. Going in there with the message of, “I want more money”, it makes the request seem aspirational. It makes it a little easier for your boss to rush aside. It’s way better to ask for a specific amount, and it’s like “Can I please get a $10,000 raise?” It’s also easier to tie it to a justification. You could say something like, “Boss, you know I’ve done my research and I found that market for people in my position with five to seven years of experience are making about X, so if there’s any way you can get me up to that level I’d really appreciate it”.

Be Unemotional

Number four, be unemotional about your argument. Build a business case. Paint a positive vision for why giving you a raise is going to be good for the company. You know, allow your boss and the company to feel actually good about giving you the money rather, than feeling like you pried it from their wallet.

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Avoid Playing the Martyr Card

Number five, avoid playing the martyr card. You know the last thing your boss wants to hear is? How beaten down you are, and how overworked you are, and how you know you really deserve more money because of how hard your life is. When you use the martyr angle, you’re basically putting a negative halo around the entire conversation. First of all, it makes you look bad — because it shows that you can’t communicate your needs like an adult. You basically waited until you reached the breaking point before you brought this to their attention. It also makes your employer feel bad because it’s an implicit indictment of their management abilities. You’re basically saying that, you know, maybe they made a mistake, or that they’re not good at managing your workflow, or maybe maybe they made a mistake about how much money you should be making.

Ask, Don’t Threaten

Number six, ask, don’t threaten. When you’re hanging out with your co-workers or your friends, it’s easy to fantasize about threatening to quit. To get what you want, actually using this approach, it’s probably one of the douchiest things you can do. Even if you feel like you have legitimate leverage, because you’re a critical part of the team, you should really avoid utilizing it in that way. Don’t walk in, bang your fist on the desk and say, “If I don’t get a 20% bump I’m gone.” Yes, that’ll go well, threatening to quit might work. But it puts a bad taste in your your boss’s mouth. They’ll definitely resent you for it. But, more importantly, you don’t need to threaten to quit, because the threat is implicit. When you ask nicely for what you want, your employer knows in the back of their heads that they can only let you down so many more times before you decide to reconsider your options.

Anticipate Objection

Nnumber 7, anticipate objection. Even if your boss agrees wholeheartedly that you deserve a raise, they’re still going to challenge you a little bit on the reasons. Why? Because they’re going to justify it to other people in the company anyway. If a conversation was going cost you $10,000, you’d probably milk it a little bit to be prepared for the counter arguments your boss is going to throw your way. Most likely, you’ll be able to identify them ahead of time, and you’ll be able to prepare a rebuttal for each one. That way, you can diffuse each point as it comes up in the actual conversation.

Be Creative About Compensation

Number 8, be prepared to get creative about compensation. Maybe your company won’t give you a $10,000 raise, but maybe they’ll let you give you every Friday off. Perhaps they’ll give you some extra vacation, or maybe they’ll let you telecommute a couple days a week. They may give you a car loan. I even had a company offer me travel vouchers back when I worked in in advertising. I think there’s really no limit in terms of creative ways to be compensated. Thinking like this can be a great solution, especially if the only reason they can’t give you a monetary bump is because they don’t have the cash. If you must have cold hard cash, another creative approach is to propose something that’s performance-based. If it is based on either your performance, or your team’s performance — that way, you can show that the company is actually getting more money as a result of this. Then they’ll have the money to be able to pay you some more money that you want.

Chose The Right Time

Number 9, choose the right time. As with anything in life, timing plays a huge factor here. On a macro level, you want to try to find a time when your boss and your company are in the right frame of mind. Think about major events in the company lately. Have you had some major wins? How are things going financially for the company? Obviously it’s going to be hard to get a raise if the company experienced losses, or just laid off staff. On the other hand, if the company’s doing well, it could be a very good time. From an individual perspective, has there been a time when you’ve really shown your value lately? If you’ve just lost money for the company by some dumb mistake that you made, you’re probably not going to get that raise. On the other hand, if you’ve really been kicking, absolutely — maybe now is a good time to ask for more money. Timing is also important on a smaller more mundane level. Choosing the right time of day, and blocking out a time slot is critical. Ideally, you want to choose a time when you and your boss aren’t going to be interrupted. Usually, that’s probably going to be early in the morning or late in the afternoon or evening. That’s going to give you time to state your case, and also allow the conversation to percolate naturally, hopefully for the positive.

Practice the Conversation

Finally, number 10 is to plan out the conversation, in practice. Outline your plan of attack, including how you’ll start the conversation and what your specific ask will be. The more you practice, the smoother and more confident you’ll be. A last thing you want to do is go in there without preparation. Just say “boss, I really think I need more money”, because the look at your notebook awkward silence and the last thing you want to seem like is that it’s just something that occurred to you on your drive into work, or in the shower this morning. The more prepared you are, the more genuine that’s going to come across, that you really believe that it should be that way. Practice not only what you’re going to say to your boss, but practice how you’re going to listen to your boss’s rebuttals and counter arguments. Practice how you’re going to calmly take a breath and be confident and non-threatening in your response. You may even want to roleplay with a friend and ask them to throw real-life objections at you. The more that you can do this thinking on your feet during this conversation, the better. Also, you don’t want to memorize the specific wording exactly. You want to keep these bullet points in your head as general ammunition. Once you get hung up on memorizing, you can easily get thrown off while you’re actually in the conversation.

I would never say that asking for a raise is easy, but if you follow the tips I just gave you, it will drastically improve your chances of getting a raise while still preserving the relationship with your boss and company.

Kyle Ingham is the Founder and Editor of The Distilled Man. He enjoys Bourbon, burritos and the occasional pirate joke. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife.