Smart Steps to Increase Your Pay

Robin Reshwan


Asking to be paid more money is a sensitive and awkward conversation for most people. However, if you are not willing to ask for more, why should your manager offer? These tips will help you build the case to get a raise and have a plan to ask for it.

1. Know if you are lucky to have the job or if they are lucky to have you. All negotiations come down to a balance of power, and employer/employee relationships are no different. If it is easier for you to find another position (where you will have the same satisfaction AND make more money) than it is for them to replace you -- you will have more room in the conversation. If the balance of power is pretty equal or if it is relatively easy for them to replace you, you will need to present valid business reasons when asking for an increase.

2. Identify why you want a raise. Salary negotiations require clarity and commitment on the side of the employee. Why you want a raise and how much of a raise you're seeking is key to developing an effective "pitch" for an increase. Some potentially valid reasons are: you are underpaid relative to peers who make similar contributions, your position has changed since you started and the new work load is more demanding, you deliver better results than peers or than are expected for the role, you have recently completed additional training or education that is professionally relevant, you are considering another opportunity for a similar role that pays more or you have experienced a cost of living or cost of working increase. If you are a valuable and productive employee, and something has changed that has impacted your overall satisfaction and/or may compel you to leave the position, a good manager will want to know.

3. Support your reasoning with evidence. Asking for a 30 percent raise just because you know someone else your age who makes that much is not evidence. Research salary websites to see pay ranges for experience, run an Indeed.com or LinkedIn search to see pay rates for similar positions and talk to recruiters to learn more about your market rate and career opportunities for your skills. If the costs of living or costs of working have changed, like increases in parking, housing, education and commute time, note how much they have changed. Having concrete evidence can make the conversation less personal and more factual.

4. Determine what you will do if you don't get what you're asking for or what you want. Will you stay in your role? Do you have an alternate offer you'll take? Are you willing to wait for a future period (like three or six months) to earn the proposed increase? There is no right or wrong next step -- but your backup plan will determine if this is a nice-to-have increase or a must-have negotiation.

5. Request a meeting. Try something like this: "Mrs. Manager, would you be available to have a career discussion with me in the next two weeks?" Of course you should request a more urgent meeting if you have a pending offer. However, if would like to set the stage for an increase but aren't ready or willing to walk immediately, consider taking a more developmental conversation approach.

6. Ways to handle the conversation. "Manager, I have really enjoyed working at Acme and appreciate the opportunity. Over the past six months, my work load has increased by 30 percent, yet I have continued to deliver the same high quality of work/results. I would like to discuss how my pay can match the change in my role." Now, pause and let your manager respond and or ask questions. A direct manager may just ask, "OK. What are you looking for and what is the based on?" A different kind of supervisor may respond with, "Let me look into this and get back to you." You may also get an outright "no." However, being prepared with research, data and details will show that you are serious, professional and aware of your worth.

7. Be prepared for the follow up. If you receive a "no" or a "not now" it is totally acceptable to ask why and what things would need to change for a raise to be considered. For example, after a "no" you can say, "may I ask why and if there is a result you are looking for from me to change that?" Keep the conversation as factual as possible and commit to yourself that you will not react to your manager's response until you have left the meeting. This process may require more than one meeting, so giving yourself time to process.

Just like any negotiation, you have to define for yourself what result is acceptable. Your preparation and professional delivery ensure you have the best chance possible of getting your desired result. Best of luck.

Robin Reshwan is the founder of Collegial Services, a consulting/staffing firm that connects college students, recent graduates and the organizations that hire them and a certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE). She has interviewed, placed and hired thousands of people across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. Her career tips and advice are used by universities, national clubs/associations and businesses. A Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Robin has been honored as a Professional Business Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a Regents Scholar from University of California, Davis.