14 Strategies to Maximize Your Next Pay Raise

Effectively asking for a raise and negotiating a significant salary increase is no easy feat in today’s uncertain economy.  Frankly, how to negotiate a salary increase is a professional skill everyone needs to master. When you want a raise, the best way is to plan for the raise…don’t just ask out of the blue.  There are many things you can do ahead of time to increase your odds of landing the salary increase you want.

The Society of Human Resources Management has cited that salary budgets increased by 3.0% in 2017.  How can you get an above average pay increase?  I find using the following salary negotiation tactics can optimize your pay and maximize your raise, when done right:

(1)       Sit with your Manager and ask what you need to accomplish to warrant a raise. 

A common mistake employees and professionals make is they work really hard thinking their hard work will bring a coveted raise.  And then after working judiciously for the year, you stand there with your hat in hand waiting for an expected raise that does not come or disappoints.  Why doesn’t the expected raise come? Well, you worked on initiatives that were not a main priority for the company, so your raise was modest or didn’t come at all.  To avoid this, sit with your manager every six months to understand the company and departmental priorities and what you need to achieve to warrant a raise.  Be clear about your intent beforehand and then work judiciously towards the right goals.

(2)       Prove yourself worthy before you request an increase.

Many times employees ask for a raise but have not proven their value to the firm. View your potential raise as an investment made by the organization and that company is looking to see what will be their return on the investment made in you. Place yourself in visible positions and promote yourself to ensure the decision makers understand your value.

(3)       Volunteer for a relevant, visible project.

One way to gain visibility is to offer your talents, time and abilities to challenging projects that are viable to the firm’s success. This way you will be working alongside key players within the company who can vouch for your work ethic and commitment to bring results.

(4)       Track your achievements.

Do not assume your boss know what you have accomplished.  Keep a log of all of your successes and wins, no matter how big or small. This will allow you to make a significant case demonstrating your value to the company, justifying the firm’s investment in you in the form of a pay raise.

(5)       Take advantage of the timing and ask on a recent, significant success.

Have you just completed a project that went well? Diplomatically brag about you and your team’s success to your boss and other critical decisions makers. If you don’t promote you, no one will.  Even if you don’t get the raise at the time of asking, you have made it known you are an achiever that needs to be kept happy at raise time,

(6)       Arm yourself with research on salary data for your profession and industry.

Using websites such as salary.com and other industry specific websites, acquire the information about your profession and see if you are above, below or at market rate for your skill and experience. If you are at or below what the market is paying and have significant successes under your belt, this could form a strong case for you warranting a raise based on your credentials and achievements.

(7)       Outline the ROI of your proposed raise to your success.

Offer to lead a project and put your money where your mouth is—outline the parameters for success and propose to tie a bonus or raise to meeting these parameters. If your project is to streamline expenses or raise revenue, then proposing that you receive a piece of that financial success pays for itself.

(8)       Be open to other forms of a raise other than cash.

If money is tight, regardless of your performance, consider other forms of compensation to be flexible with your employer, while still allowing them to reward your contributions. Propose flextime, work-at-home flexibility, extra time off, educational reimbursement, wellness benefits, etc.

(9)       As you compile your case for a raise, think like your boss: “Would you give you a raise?” 

Be the person you would want to give a raise to. It is that simple. Do you make your boss’s job easier? Do you make your boss look good? Would he/she be excited to lobby for you to his/her managers to obtain their approval to give you a raise? Do you make it worth the risk for them to stand up for you?

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(10)    Be a Top 5% performer for your employer.  

If you are a Top 5% performer in your organization, then the answers to all of these questions would be ‘yes.’  If you did not receive the salary raise you were looking for this past year, ask yourself these last two questions.

(11)    Invest in yourself and your professional development.

When was the last time you furthered your professional education? Attended an industry event? Companies want to invest in people who invest in themselves—again, demonstrating an ROI on monies the firm gives you in the form of a salary raise.

(12)    Timing can be everything, so consider timing.

The decisions for issuing raises are completed often well before review time or fiscal year beginnings. Ask for a raise the quarter or two before when raises are normally given out to put yourself on the radar. This goes back to the first point of planning and sitting with your manager.  Bad times to ask are when poor financial information has been issued or when raises have already been announced.  By then it is too late.

(13)    Ask your boss what you can do to get one next year.

Did not get the raise you were hoping for? Allow your boss to be very candid with you what you could do to improve your chances in landing a raise next year—solicit specific feedback to projects you can handle and your performance up to that point. Do not be defensive when receiving this information. It is meant to help you improve to land a higher salary bracket next year.

(14)    Be realistic and be grateful.

No one wants to give a raise to someone who is asking for a 65% raise or feels entitled to getting a raise. Those types of employees will never be happy, so companies do not invest their precious dollars with these people—don’t be one of these people. Stick to a 5-10% range and have your documentation ready. Whether you get what you want or not, be gracious, thank them for their time and consideration and be grateful for what you have. Set your plans to make the following year the best ever.

If you feel like you need help in the area of salary/compensation negotiation, we offer coaching that will arm you with the research and tactics you need to lead the conversation and negotiate from a place of strength.

Work with one of our career coaches (who are all former practicing recruiters) to develop a personalized, repeatable process that you can use over & over again to negotiate the highest compensation possible.

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