It’s something we’ve all had to stare down at one point or another. Some of us are great at it, but most of us aren’t. It’s an essential piece of business, though, and one that, with sharpened skills, confidence, and simple tactics, can ensure greater job satisfaction and a more comfortable financial future. What am I talking about? Asking for a raise, of course.
Like it or not, at some point you’re going to be in a position where asking for a raise is essential. Perhaps you’ve been at the same company in the same role for years and it’s time to set your sights on something bigger and better. Maybe your circumstances have changed and you need to get a raise here or go elsewhere. Or maybe you’re simply feeling undervalued in your current organization. Your choices? You can make a play for that raise or you can continue on your current path of discontentment. I know what I’d choose.
So the million-dollar question is how do you position your request? What are the essential steps to cutting through the clutter and making the ask? Equally importantly, how do you ensure that when the chips fall, they’re more likely to fall in your favour? There’s walking in confidently and truly believing in what you’re saying and in the validity of your request. There’s ensuring you’ve paved the way to this moment in time by building strong relationships with your superiors, so when you do make your request, it doesn’t feel awkward or aggressive.
But you know all that, right? So what happens after you’ve made the decision to make the ask? After you’ve walked through your boss’ door with a value-first mindset and the confidence that comes with it? Tap into one or both of these 60-second persuasion tactics. They may feel uncomfortable at first, but you can do anything for a minute, can’t you? Take a breath and find the one that suits you, along with your relationship to your company and your boss, and have at it. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what comes next.
Tactic #1: Go big or go home.
Teenagers are masters of this approach. They want to stay out past curfew, so they aim high—2:00 AM, let’s say. They know their parents will never agree, but they do know what likely comes next: a compromise that gets them a late night out without rocking the parental boat.
It’s a genius strategy in business, but it’s also a bit high-risk. Think about the salary or compensation package you feel you deserve, then increase it. Maybe you double the raise in your mind, or add 20-25% to the top. Then, confidently, make your value-centric case and lob this higher number—and wait. If you’ve truly brought something compelling to the table, your boss won’t immediately reject your request. This will likely lead to some level of negotiation or, at least, some feedback on what can or can’t be done, potentially. While you likely won’t get the big number, you’ll probably land somewhere closer to your true goal and your boss will feel that he’s won, too. What could be better?
A word of caution: if you’re a high-value employee, this is a perfectly appropriate tactic to try. However, if you’re a bit shakier, this could backfire—you could seem misguided or as if you have a false sense of self-worth. Really understand how you’re seen within the organization and in your boss’ eyes before hopping into this “big ask.” It’s a powerful and highly successful technique, but it’s not for everyone.
Tactic #2: Have options—or at least understand your options.
Going into a salary negotiation with another job offer on the table can be extremely powerful, especially if you’d be happy to take that other post. It’s not just having a backup, it’s everything that mentally and emotionally comes with it. Think about how you feel when you get a job offer: You’ve got confidence. You’ve got swagger. You feel like the king of the world, don’t you? Even if it’s not “The Job,” someone has picked you out of a lineup and determined that you are a high-performing, high-value asset that they would love to have at their organization. How can’t that feel good?
And here’s the interesting thing: when you walk into a salary conversation with this option in your back pocket, you can’t help but carry yourself differently. You likely aren’t as anxious about asking for a raise and, at the same time, have real-world proof that your professional worth is higher than what you’re making now. And, chances are, all of this will come across from the moment you walk through the door, even before you make the ask.
That said, this shouldn’t be a gun-to-their-head moment. This is still a negotiation and, if you’re having this conversation, it’s likely you’d prefer to stay put—with a higher salary, that is—or would at least entertain the thought. Be respectful, tout your value drivers, but be sure to note that there is another option on the table and that it’s forced you to examine your worth within the organization. People innately have a fear of losing something of value, so much so that we’ll do more to avoid pain than we will to potentially gain pleasure. If you’re a positive force within your organization, your boss’ avoidance trigger will immediately spark and they’ll likely attempt to roadblock your move.
But what if you don’t have another offer? It’s ideal, but not always realistic. So, what do you do? Having options doesn’t have to be about having an offer letter in hand—it’s simply knowing what else is out there and benchmarking yourself accordingly. If you know other people in a similar position are earning more elsewhere, consider that an option. You could apply for a position there or at countless other companies that have similar roles and would readily welcome your talent and expertise. Talk about your value in the overarching industry and the options that exist in the marketplace for a professional like you. There’s no direct acknowledgment of an offer but, instead, an acknowledgement that you’ve done your homework and understand what’s out there. Planting that seed can be powerful—again, it’s the avoidance trigger at play.
Do nothing, hoping you’ll be noticed, acknowledged, and elevated to the professional and financial level you feel you’re entitled to. It’s definitely a tactic and one that can work—albeit very rarely. The more likely outcome? You remain stagnant, feeling under-appreciated and undervalued. Eventually, those feelings seep into your day-to-day, negatively impacting your work, your social interactions, and your results. Your productivity dips, your discontent grows, and you fail to deliver the same level of value you produced just a few weeks or months ago. And without that tangible worth, if and when you do decide to ask for a raise, chances aren’t in your favor as you’ve lost your “high-value” bargaining chip.
No matter your industry or role, eventually the raise conversation needs to happen—and rightfully so. Focus on the value you bring to a company, build strong relationships, and understand your worth within the organization and outside of its walls. Go into your negotiation ready to make the ask and confident that you’re worth it. Don’t be afraid to go big or to exercise your options. See where the chips fall. If you leverage these tactics, more often than not they’ll land in your favour.
Featured photo credit: Pixabay 2016 via pixabay.com