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Scott Gamm


Here's How to Negotiate a Higher Salary

Posted: 04/29/2013 8:38 am

Negotiating a raise or a higher starting salary is undoubtedly a delicate task. The employee always wants more money and employers are typically reluctant to grant raises in an effort to keep costs down. Navigating this dynamic requires some planning and careful strategy.

Salary.com found that only 37% of respondents in a recent survey negotiate for a higher salary when mulling over job offers. Cast aside your fears and stop leaving money on the table.

In fact, failing to negotiate can be perceived as a weakness. Employers expect potential employees to ask for a higher salaries. And especially in jobs that center around negotiation and dealing with clients, simply accepting an employer's initial offer without any negotiation doesn't reflect a persistent and headstrong attitude on your end.

While your negotiations may not go as planned, here are seven ways to give yourself an edge when it comes to asking for a higher salary.

Scott is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE: The Financial Secrets You Never Learned in School (Plume/Penguin).

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  • 1. Your accomplishments

    Whether you’re just about to start at the company or have worked at the firm for years and are hoping for a raise, reiterate the value you’ve brought to the company. If you work in sales, dwell on the numbers. Did you surpass your sales goal? Or maybe you spearheaded a social media campaign that resulted in thousands of additional followers on the company’s social media pages. Simply stating that you’ve worked hard, long hours isn’t going to cut it – that’s a given. Think about what you’ve done and don’t be afraid to wear that on your sleeve.

  • 2. The decision makers

    Figure out who is going to be making the decision as to whether or not you’ll get your raise. It may be your boss or even their boss. And the human resources department might have a say. Knowing who the ultimate decision-maker is will help you develop your strategy, but it will also keep your expectations in check. If there is an entire group of people that need to be convinced, this process might take a bit longer than expected.

  • 3. Timing is everything

    During the recession, it was tough to find a company that wasn’t downsizing and laying off staff. And you guessed it – it's inappropriate to ask for a raise when the company isn’t performing well. Unless of course you’re so indispensible that the company can’t risk losing you to a competitor. Use your instincts as to when it best to broach the subject with the higher-ups. It could be soon after you finish a successful project or snag a lucrative new client – there’s no magic formula.

  • 4. Prepare

    When trying to determine the ideal salary, research what competitor firms are paying. Visit sites like <a href="http://glassdoor.com/" target="_blank">Glassdoor.com</a>, where current and past employees can anonymously reveal salaries for various positions and companies, as well as <a href="http://payscale.com/" target="_blank">Payscale.com</a> to get a sense of what the going rate is in the industry. This info can tell you how good (or bad) your current deal is and give you some perspective of what a realistic raise would be. But if you suspect that a co-worker makes more than you – and you’re both on the same level, don’t complain to your boss. It’s not only petty, but chances are you don’t know the exact salary of that co-worker. Plus, that’s not a valid reason for you to score a raise. The co-worker may be more experienced, may have more education – that is, there are countless factors that determine one’s salary. Instead, focus your energy on you and your accomplishments.

  • 5. Ask away

    Once you’re armed with information about salaries at competing firms, this is when you determine a specific salary you’d like. Ask for at least $10,000-$20,000 above that level, in the event your employer wants to meet you halfway. Giving yourself some leeway is the best way to push your end of the bargain. So don’t lowball your salary – aim a little higher. After all, it’s called negotiation for a reason, so expect some back and forth.

  • 6. “No” might mean not now

    Just because your employer doesn’t grant you your raise or they won’t bump up your salary to join the firm doesn’t mean the game is over. It just might take longer. Remember how we talked about timing earlier? Timing is quite elusive so a “no” from your employer might simply mean “not now.” So keep your head high, keep the momentum up and your day will come!

  • 7. It’s not all about the money

    If you can’t get a better salary, ask for a more prestigious title. A better title will be helpful if you’re trying to jump ship and move to another firm. That title may command a higher salary at a competitor. Other alternatives to the green stuff include more vacation days and especially if you have kids, the ability to work from home one day a week or one day every other week. Think about what else it is you want, besides a raise.


Follow Scott Gamm on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottGamm